Pope says he found ‘good will’ from UAE leaders to seek peace in Yemen

February 5, 2019

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Tuesday he had found “good will” to start peace processes to end the conflict in Yemen, during private meetings with leaders of the United Arab Emirates, which is playing a leading role in a Saudi-led coalition against Houthis in Yemen.

Francis, who in the past has condemned the war in Yemen several times, made the comment in response to a question on the plane returning from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

“I spoke about it, but just with just a few people,” Francis said when asked if he had discussed Yemen during his meeting with Crown Prince Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and other leaders.

“I will say that I found good will to start peace processes,” he said, without elaborating.

The nearly four-year-old war in Yemen, the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation, has killed tens of thousands of people and left almost 16 million people facing severe hunger. The conflict pits the Saudi-led coalition loyal to ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Iran-aligned Houthi group.

The United Nations is trying to implement a fragile ceasefire deal in the country’s main Hodeidah port, a lifeline for millions and the site of some of the war’s fiercest battles. It hopes the deal will pave the way for talks to end the war.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frances Kerry)