Iran says could cooperate with Saudi to solve Yemen crisis

KUWAIT (Reuters, AFP) - Iran wants all parties in Yemen to return to talks, Teheran's deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Tuesday, adding the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia could work together to solve the conflict there.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, meanwhile, denounced Iran's "support" for the Shi'ite rebels seeking to "destabilise" neighbouring Yemen, insisting that the authorities in his country are not "warmongers".

"Iran and Saudi Arabia can cooperate to solve the Yemeni crisis," Abdollahian told reporters in Kuwait, speaking through a translator. "We recommend all parties in Yemen return to calm and dialogue".

Asked whether Iran had any channels of communication with Saudi, Abdollahian told Reuters: "We are trying". Abdollahian gave no details but, asked whether Teheran had a plan for resolving the war, he replied: "We have a proposal".

The Houthis, a Shi'ite Muslim militia group, seized power in Yemeni capital Sanaa in February, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to the port city of Aden. Hadi arrived in Riyadh from Aden on Thursday.

Iran supports the Houthi fighters but denies Saudi accusations that it has given military assistance to the Houthis.

The rebels last week were advancing on Aden, raising fears in Sunni Muslim Saudi that they would seize control of the entire country and take it into Iran's orbit.

The kingdom now leads an Arab coalition which since Thursday has been carrying out air strikes against the Houthi rebels and their allies in Yemen.

Iran has also criticised the six-day-old Saudi-led air campaign. "The Saudi military attacks on Yemen are a strategic mistake," Abdollahian said. "Reaching a political solution requires an immediate halt to the military operations...and the start of dialogue (between) all the Yemeni parties."

In Riyadh, Saudi foreig minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, condemned Iranian "support" for the Yemen rebels.

The Houthis and their ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, "decided with the support of Iran to destabilise Yemen and confuse the issue", Prince Saud told the Shura Council, according to the Twitter account of the appointed advisory body.

"We are not warmongers, but when they beat the drums of war we are ready," said Saud, who has held the post since 1975 and is the world's longest-serving foreign minister.