Saudi Arabia accuses Yemen's Huthi rebels of stepping up attacks

web_photo_Adel al-Jubeir_21102016

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir with John Kerry, United States Secretary of State, in Riyadh on May 6, 2015.

WASHINGTON- Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir accused Yemen's Huthi rebels of stepping up their attacks Thursday and of putting in danger a day-old UN-mandated ceasefire.

Jubeir told reporters in Washington that Saudi Arabia reserves the right to defend itself from further Huthi attacks, but stopped short of declaring the truce a failure.

"As of this morning Washington time there had been more than 150 violations by the Huthi-Saleh side," Jubeir said, referring to the rebels and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Sitting with US Secretary of State John Kerry after talks at the State Department, Jubeir called the alleged Huthi attacks an "escalation in the violence, rather than a reduction."

And he accused the Huthis of launching a missile across the border into Saudi territory and killing a man and his daughter.

Kerry condemned the cross-border attack, but was keen to insist that his guest confirm that the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen still intends to respect the ceasefire.

"If I can just interrupt," Kerry interjected as Jubeir finished his remarks. 

"It is clear that Saudi Arabia is still committed to the ceasefire and as far as you're concerned the ceasefire is still in effect. Is that correct?"

Jubeir responded that the kingdom has indicated that it supports Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's call for a truce.

"The coalition countries are abiding by this," he said.

"But I want to emphasise that we have a right to defend ourselves, we have a right to protect our borders, we have a right to protect our citizens and we have to ensure that the other side maintains its commitment to the cessation of hostilities."