Saudi king backs political solutions in Yemen, Syria

RIYADH (AA): Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Monday reiterated support for reaching political solutions to the conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

In a speech to the Shura Council, a top advisory body, the monarch said the oil-rich kingdom would continue its efforts to resolve regional crises.

“Our stand with Yemen was not an option but a duty to support the Yemeni people against the Iran-backed putschist militias,” he said.

Yemen has remained wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as proxies for Shia Iran — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The Saudi king also called for reaching a political solution that help “cruise Syria out of its crisis, push away terrorist groups and allow the repatriation of Syrian refugees.”

The king’s speech was his first public comments since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.

Khashoggi, a frequent contributor to The Washington Post, was killed shortly after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Oct. 2.

Saudi Arabia had offered shifting explanations for Khashoggi’s disappearance before suggesting he was killed during a botched rendition operation by rogue agents.

So far, 21 people, including security officers, have been arrested in Saudi Arabia in connection with the murder.

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