U.K. Foreign Secretary Visits Yemen, Urges Greater Peace Efforts

(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt visited Yemen’s port city of Aden as part of a regional tour and urged parties in the nation’s four-year conflict to make greater efforts to secure a lasting peace.

“This is actually the worst humanitarian crisis that we face right now,” Hunt said in comments posted on Twitter. It’s “essential” that the opposing sides take the steps needed to follow through on peace talks held in Stockholm in December, he added.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Visits Yemen, Urges Greater Peace Efforts

Hunt met with Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Saeed Al Khanbashi and Foreign Minister Khaled Al Yamani, as well as aid workers. Earlier he visited President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdel Salem in Muscat, Oman, the U.K.’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in a statement.

The conflict, seen as a proxy battle for regional influence between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, has ravaged a country already struggling with deep poverty and dysfunction. Thousands of civilians have been killed with millions more either fleeing or forced from their homes.

Hunt is the first British foreign minister to visit the country since 1996, his department said, adding that the trip was to show the U.K.’s support for the government of Yemen and for United Nations efforts to secure peace.

“People in Yemen are on the brink of starvation and none of the parties really want a return to hostilities -- so now is the time to take a deep breath, put aside the anger and mistrust after four years of terrible fighting and take the risks that are always necessary at the start of any peace process,” Hunt said in the statement.

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