U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Friday, before participating in a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.
The two men participated in a wreath laying ceremony at France's Tomb of the Uknown Soldier in Paris — a city that was the scene of massive celebrations May 8, 1945 to mark the surrender of Nazi Germany.
Meeting with GCC Members
Kerry is set to meet with Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers in France to discuss regional issues. He will be laying the groundwork for a White House summit with Gulf leaders next week.
Among the topics in Friday's talks will be Iran's growing influence across much of the Middle East.
At a news conference in Riyadh Thursday, Kerry and his Saudi counterpart, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubier, said efforts were underway to forge a five-day cease-fire in Yemen to send in humanitarian aid. They said the cease-fire would be renewable, depending on the conditions on the ground.
“We strongly urge the Houthis and those who back them - whom we suggest use all their influence - not to miss this major opportunity to address the needs of the Yemeni people and find a peaceful way forward in Yemen,” Kerry said.
The Saudi foreign minister said there had been no initial contact with the Houthis, who are believed to receive support from Iran, on whether they would support a cease-fire. He said more details would be announced in the coming days about the proposed pause, which would affect all of Yemen.
“There will be a cease-fire everywhere or a cease-fire nowhere,” the foreign minister said. He added that he hoped the Houthis would care enough about the Yemeni people to support the plan.
Earlier this week, Yemen’s U.N. ambassador sent a letter to the Security Council urging the international community to “quickly intervene” with ground forces in Yemen.
A Saudi-led air coalition has been pounding Houthi targets. On Wednesday, Houthi rebels and their allies gained control of another section of the port city of Aden, after battling militiamen loyal to the exiled president. The Houthis back Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
U.N. Special Envoy on Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has been conducting intensive consultations to restore Yemen’s political process.
The United Nations says about 650 civilians have been killed in Yemen’s unrest and thousands have fled from Yemen.
An increasing number of civilians in the country are facing difficulties meeting their basic needs. On Wednesday, Kerry announced the U.S. would be providing another $68 million in humanitarian assistance to help Yemen.
Kerry announced the new aid from Djibouti, a country that has hosted Americans and other foreigners fleeing Yemen’s unrest.
On Thursday, the Saudi foreign minister said his country was sending $274 million in humanitarian aid to help Yemen.