A United States official and two other sources familiar with the Yemen war talks told reporters that Saudi Arabia was seeking assistance form the United States in upgrading its defences as it faces heavy pressure from Washington to halt a blockade of Yemeni ports that its Houthi opponents claim is hindering peace talks.
After Houthi rebels overthrew the internationally recognised government in Sanaa, a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015.
Efforts to resolve a war that has killed tens of thousands of people and brought Yemen to the verge of famine have come to a halt. The Houthis demand that the coalition should stop blocking the ports and airports at Sanaa before ceasefire talks can begin.
Washington, Saudi Arabia’s important security alliance, has pressed the coalition to completely enable access to the Houthi-controlled harbors and airport. America has also urged the Houthis to stop their offensive operations and to engage in negotiations.
A resolution would be a victory for US President Joe Biden, who has deemed ending the conflict as a foreign policy priority, and it would promote peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which are widely perceived as proxy-warring.
But, according to individuals involved with the talks, Riyadh initially wants American arms to help the country enhance its defence mechanisms following recent Houthi strikes on its territory with armed drones and ballistic missiles.