WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday said it welcomed an announcement by a Saudi-led coalition to keep the Hodeidah port in Yemen open for a month and allow humanitarian aid to flow through, and condemned a Houthi bombing of a palace in Saudi Arabia.
In a brief statement, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders suggested the United States believed Iran bore ultimate responsibility for the Dec. 19 missile attack against the palace in Riyadh.
“We urge the United Nations Security Council to hold Iran responsible for its repeated and blatant violations of Security Council resolutions,” Sanders said.
At a briefing later on Thursday, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tim Lenderking said the United States would have a conversation with Saudi Arabia about the 30 days the port will be open and about possibly changing the timeline, but said the United States first wants to see ships moving in and goods and services reaching the people of Yemen.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting in Yemen said on Wednesday it would open the Houthi-controlled port it had blockaded. A cholera epidemic has been spreading across the country and 8 million people are on the brink of famine in what the United Nations deems the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The Saudis say the Red Sea port is also a hub used by the Houthis to bring in weapons, which it accuses Iran of supplying. Tehran denies the charges.
Lenderking also said there was no military solution to the conflict and that President Donald Trump’s administration believes the best course is “aggressive diplomacy.”
Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted on Thursday in favour of a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
When asked if U.S. aid to Yemen would diminish given that Yemen drafted the resolution and was one of the 120 countries that voted for it, Lenderking said he was not sure but Trump’s threat was not empty.
Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Lisa Lambert; Additional reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Susan Heavey and David Gregorio