The Saudi Arabia-based Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is considering inviting the Houthis to talks in Riyadh to discuss the war in Yemen, two Gulf officials told Reuters on Tuesday.
The officials said that the GCC might send formal invitations to the Houthis in the coming days and that they would be “guests” of GCC Secretary-General Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf. The talks are planned for March 29 to April 17.
The Gulf officials said exiled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has been living in Saudi Arabia since 2015, is ready to talk to the Houthis. Responding to the report, a Houthi official said Saudi Arabia cannot play a mediator in the talks since Riyadh is a party to the war.
Other GCC members, with the exception of Oman, are also part of the US-backed Saudi-led coalition that has been waging a war and enforcing a blockade on Yemen since 2015.
Last year, President Biden appointed a special envoy to Yemen who was meant to push for a diplomatic solution, but virtually no progress has been made. The Houthis have been clear that their precondition for talks or a ceasefire with the Saudis is a lifting of the blockade.
The Biden administration has not pressured Riyadh to lift the blockade even though the siege on Yemen has already killed hundreds of thousands and had done nothing to depose the Houthis. The UN estimated that by the end of 2021, 377,000 people have been killed by the war in Yemen, 70% of which were children under the age of five.