The Latest: Saudi UN ambassador denies Yemen embargo
Nov. 13, 2017
CAIRO (AP) — The Latest on the war in Yemen (all times local):
Saudi Arabia's U.N. ambassador is denying that there has been an embargo on Yemen, saying "a temporary procedure" was taken for a few days to ensure the safety and security of Yemenis and Saudis and supplies were available.
Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi reiterated at a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York on Monday that closed seaports and airports will start reopening within the 24 hours promised late Sunday.
"There is no embargo," he said. "There are many sources of supply to Yemen, even during the past week or so."
Al-Mouallimi said the Saudi-led coalition wants tougher inspections at the port of Hodeida, which is controlled by Houthi Shiite rebels, because current U.N.-monitored inspections only check large ships, and "in the case of small and medium-size ships there is hardly any inspection that takes place in the port or anywhere else."
He said many weapons have been smuggled to the Houthis through Hodeida and the small ports they control.
Al-Mouallimi also accused the Houthis of diverting humanitarian aid "to fulfill their own requirements" and "to trade in the black market and achieve exorbitant profits at the expense of the Yemeni people."
A top leader of Yemen's Shiite rebels who are at war with a Saudi-led military coalition is vowing retaliation against the oil-rich kingdom over its disastrous blockade of the war-torn country.
The fiery comments came even as Saudi Arabia said on Monday that it will begin reopening airports and seaports in Yemen — those in areas not controlled by the rebels — after days of closing them over a rebel ballistic missile attack on Riyadh. The Saudi closure had drawn international condemnation and fears of a worsening humanitarian disaster in Yemen.
Saleh al-Sammad, the head of the Presidency Council of Yemen's rebels, also known as Houthis, told a rally of thousands of supporters marching down a main boulevard in the capital, Sanaa, that the coalition has "shut down all doors for peace and dialogue."
He also said that the more the blockade tightens, the more the Houthis will develop their abilities to "respond to the assault of the enemy."
Saudi Arabia's mission to the United Nations says the Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen will begin reopening airports and seaports in the Arab world's poorest country.
The mission's announcement came in a statement early on Monday.
It says: "The first step in this process will be taken within 24 hours and involves reopening all the ports in areas controlled by" Yemen's internationally recognized government, which the coalition backs.
It says those ports are in Aden, Mocha and Mukalla.
Saudi Arabia announced it shut down all ports after a Nov. 4 ballistic missile attack on Riyadh near its international airport by the Shiite rebels known as Houthis.
Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have accused Iran of supplying the ballistic missile used in that attack. The Houthis have denied that.