Report: US Officials Held First Direct Meeting With Yemen’s Houthis

Sources told Reuters that Biden's Yemen envoy met with the Houthis' chief negotiator in Oman

According to a report from Reuters, senior US officials recently held their first direct meeting with officials representing Yemen’s Houthis as part of President Biden’s effort to end the war in Yemen.

Sources told Reuters that on February 26th, Timothy Lenderking, President Biden’s envoy for Yemen, met with the Houthis’ chief negotiator Mohammed Abdusalam in Muscat, Oman.

Lenderking recently wrapped up a tour of the region where he met with Saudi and UN officials to discuss the war. But neither the US nor the Houthis have commented publicly on the meeting. “We will not be commenting on all his engagements,” a State Department spokesperson told Reuters when asked about the Houthis meeting.

According to the sources, Lenderking pressed the Houthis to stop the offensive in Yemen’s Maarib province and engage more in ceasefire talks with the Saudis. UN-brokered ceasefire talks between the Houthis and the Saudis have been ongoing. The Saudis are seeking an end to Houthis attacks inside their territory, and the Houthis want an end to the blockade on the port of Hodeidah and the Sanaa airport.

Earlier in February, the Houthis offered to stop attacks inside Saudi Arabia in exchange for an end to Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Yemen. But coalition bombs continue to pound Yemen.

On Tuesday, the US sanctioned two Houthi commanders, accusing them of prolonging the conflict. But the Houthis hit back on Wednesday and said the sanctions are an aggressive act and a sign that Washington is not looking to quickly end the war.

“America is condemning itself and confirming that it is not thinking about stopping the aggression … and that it stands behind the prolongation of the war and the exacerbation of the humanitarian crisis,” Houthi official Mohammed Abdulsalam said of the US sanctions.

The UN recently warned that if conditions on the ground do not change, 400,000 Yemeni children under the age of five could starve to death in 2021. Yemenis are facing famine due to the US-backed Saudi-led blockade and bombing campaign that started in March 2015.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.