US Defense Secretary James Mattis says the conflict in Yemen needs to be resolved "as quickly as possible” through UN-brokered peace negotiations.
"Our aim is that this crisis can be handed to a team of negotiators under the aegis of the United Nations that can try to find a political solution as quickly as possible," Mattis told reporters on Tuesday as he flew to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
"We will work with our allies, with our partners to try to get it to the UN-brokered negotiating table," the Pentagon chief said.
Mattis is expected to meet senior Saudi officials, including King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman.
Several UN brokered ceasefires and peace talks have so far failed to end the conflict in Yemen.
Mattis gave no details on what additional support, if any, the United States would provide to the Saudi-led coalition. Washington already provides intelligence as well as aerial refueling to coalition warplanes carrying out air strikes in Yemen.
Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen for causing civilian casualties. The campaign has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, most of them civilians.
Saudi Arabia launched its deadly campaign against Yemen in March 2015 with the alleged goal of pushing back the Houthi Ansarullah movement from the capital, Sana’a, and to reinstate the regime of Yemen's former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.
The Saudis and their allies have also suffered considerable casualties in the operation on Yemen as official estimates say more than 500 soldiers from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have been killed since March 2015.
Some officials in US President Donald Trump's administration have called for more American military support for the Saudi-led coalition.
In late January, US special forces carried out an attack against a purported position of al-Qaeda militants in the central Yemeni province of Bayda, killing about 30 civilians.
The raid, in which just about everything went wrong, was the first known American-led ground mission in Yemen since December 2014.
The White House hailed the operation as a success, but critics said it was a failure since it resulted in the death of civilians and 36-year-old Navy SEAL Ryan Owens.
The US military carried out a flurry of air strikes in Yemen after the botched raid, involving a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken advantage of the chaos and breakdown of security in Yemen to tighten its grip on the southern and southeastern parts of the Arab country.
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