Washington, Riyadh – US Secretary of Defense James Mattis affirmed Tuesday “the need to bring to an end Iranian-supplied missiles being fired by the Houthis into Saudi Arabia.”
Mattis told reporters on his plane while en route to Saudi Arabia that the US goal is for a UN team to try to resolve the conflict in Yemen “politically, as soon as possible.”
Mattis began a visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to discuss efforts to strengthen commitments to the US-Saudi security partnership.
He will then travel to Egypt, Israel, Qatar and Djibouti.
“Saudi Arabia has been a key security ally for more than seven decades,” Mattis said. “The country remains a “pillar of our security framework for the region and for American interests,” he told reporters traveling with him.
Mattis said he is expected to hold discussions with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his principal subordinates to tackle the country’s security situation and “how we can deepen and broaden our strategic relationship with them,” the secretary said.
Pentagon military officials said the US administration is currently studying several options to deal with the situation in Yemen, including the increase of intelligence and monitoring operations. The US might also provide Coalition forces with logistic support, to involve offering fuel to the Saudi and UAE airplanes and enhance the operations against al-Qaeda in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula.
In a related development, the Yemeni government welcomed the statements of the US Secretary of Defense concerning the efforts conducted through UN-brokered negotiations to resolve the conflict in Yemen.
The government asserted that any step made towards peace in Yemen should include a UN intervention that forces rebels to accept peace according to UN Resolution 2216.
Meanwhile, the Coalition Forces said in a statement Tuesday that a Black Hawk helicopter of the Saudi Armed Forces crashed while on a mission in Maarib.
The crash resulted in the “martyrdom” of four officers and eight rank officers of the Saudi armed forces.
The statement said investigations were ongoing to determine the causes of the accident.