United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud held their first formal conversation over the weekend, discussing a range of issues spanning regional security to human rights violations, and the ongoing war in Yemen. The phone call, which came a day after Blinken’s first talk with the foreign minister of the neighboring United Arab Emirates, coincided with the White House’s Friday announcement that it would reverse the terrorist designation of Yemen’s Houthi movement, passed by the previous administration during its final days. The Houthis are battling a Saudi-led coalition of states over control of Yemen, after ousting President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in 2015. The United Nations and human rights organizations have warned that blacklisting the Iran-backed Shi’ite group, which controls most of the war-torn country, would exacerbate the already-disastrous Yemeni humanitarian crisis. On top of revoking the terrorist label of Riyadh’s rivals, President Joe Biden on Thursday promised he would work toward resolving the civil war peacefully, mainly by ending US support to the Saudi coalition.
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