The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen has invited a UN team to visit its headquarters in Riyadh for talks on a UN report that blamed the military alliance for the deaths of hundreds of children in Yemen.
Saudi Ambassador Abdullah Al-Mouallimi extended the invitation in a letter sent to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week, but UN officials say they would rather hold talks in New York.
“We’re studying it,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday. “We obviously remain interested in what information the Saudi-led coalition could provide us.”
He added that “our preference” would be to hold meetings at UN headquarters in New York.
The coalition launched an air campaign in support of Yemen’s President Abedrabbu Mansour Hadi in March 2015 to push back Houthi rebels after they seized the capital Sanaa and many parts of the country.
In his letter, Mouallimi said “the coalition invites a team of experts to visit the coalition headquarters in Riyadh, with advance notice, and jointly review the cases and number in the report to ensure objectivity and accuracy.”
“The coalition was created precisely to protect civilians, including children, in the aftermath of the military escalation by the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Saleh,” he wrote.
The Saudi ambassador requested “a detailed overview of the methodology and modality that were used to create the number in the report and the sources relied on for said numbers.”
Mouallimi has denied threatening to cut off funding to the United Nations and has said that the decision to take the coalition off the list was “final and irreversible.”
Mouallimi’s letter to Ban expressed “his sincere appreciation for the removal” of the coalition from the blacklist and reaffirmed what he said was its respect for, and compliance with, international humanitarian and human rights law. Yemen’s Ambassador Khaled Alyemany said his government was ready to send the minister for human rights to the Riyadh meeting.[Source: Saudi Gazette]