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Saudi king hosts Abu Dhabi crown prince amid Yemen offensive

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (R, pictured July 2018) led a “top-level delegation” to Riyadh after the US halted a controversial refuelling arrangement for coalition air craft engaged in Yemen © AFP/File / KARIM SAHIB

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Nov 11 – Saudi King Salman hosted Abu Dhabi’s crown prince on Saturday, state media said, as a military coalition led by the two Gulf allies pushes an offensive to seize the strategic Yemeni port city of Hodeida.

Abu Dhabi’s Prince Mohammed bin Zayed led a “top-level delegation” to Riyadh, the official Saudi press agency said in a brief statement, after the US halted a controversial refuelling arrangement for coalition air craft engaged in Yemen.

The two leaders reviewed “current developments in the region and challenges and crises facing it”, the UAE’s state news agency WAM said, without elaborating.

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

Saudi Arabia in particular faces increased scrutiny following international outrage over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder last month in its consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi rulers have sought to rally support from Arab allies following what is seen as the worst diplomatic crisis facing the kingdom since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The United Arab Emirates has thrown its support behind Saudi Arabia, its main ally, over the Khashoggi affair.

Yemeni government forces backed by the coalition pressed further into Hodeida, seizing its main hospital in heavy fighting on Saturday, as they shrugged off an end to US refuelling support.

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

The United Nations has since pushed that deadline back to the end of the year.

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