Saudi king hosts Abu Dhabi crown prince amid Yemen offensive


The Saudi and UAE-led war in Yemen has caused growing global unease after high-profile coalition air strikes that have killed scores of civilians, many of them children.

The US' statement came after the Saudi Arabia said that "in consultation with the US" it has asked for "cessation of inflight refueling support" from America.

On Friday, Reuters reported, citing unnamed United States officials, that Washington considering ending the refueling of coalition aircraft in Yemen, citing both the coalition's own increased capabilities and growing worldwide outrage over the human consequences of the war in Yemen.

He suggested a continuing role for the United States in Yemen to help the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni forces minimise civilian casualties and expand humanitarian efforts.

The Saudi Press agency released a statement on Saturday explaining that the coalition was able to "increase their capacity" for refueling their aircraft and would do so independently going forward.

A foreign ministry spokesman declined to say whether the decision was partly motivated by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

He said that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were taking adequate measures to minimize civilian deaths.

American officials earlier said Saudi forces now handled some 80 percent of their refueling operations, which crucially allow aircraft to fly longer sorties over possible targets and can ease the pressure for quick strikes.

He said the U.S. will continue working with the coalition to minimise civilian casualties and expand urgent humanitarian efforts in Yemen.

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In August this year, he warned that USA support for the coalition was "not unconditional", noting it must do "everything humanly possible to avoid any innocent loss of life".

The Saudi-led coalition intervened on the side of the government the following year.

The intensified battle for Hodeida comes despite Mattis calling last month for a ceasefire and negotiations between Yemen's warring parties within 30 days.

Yemeni pro-government forces, backed by Saudi-led coalition fighter jets and attack helicopters, have launched an offensive on the rebel-held port city of Hodeida despite warnings from aid groups that civilians are at risk.

The World Health Organization estimates almost 10,000 people have been killed since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened after Hadi fled into exile.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for a halt to violence in Yemen to pull the country back from a "precipice" and build momentum towards talks on ending the war.

Saudi Arabia is a key ally of the USA, which views it as a counter to Iranian influence in the region.

Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of forces against Iran-aligned Houthi fighters in Yemen, in a conflict that has driven much of Yemen's population to the brink of starvation.