US backs Dutch resolution seeking probe of Yemen conflict

AP News
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Posted: Sep 28, 2015 1:32 PM

GENEVA (AP) — The United States supports Dutch efforts to create an international fact-finding mission on human rights abuses in war-torn Yemen, the U.S. ambassador to the top U.N. rights body said Monday, setting the stage for tough diplomatic negotiation on the issue with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in coming days.

The Dutch proposal to the U.N. Human Rights Council, which could expose abuses on all sides of the war, follows the submission of another one co-sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Yemen that does not seek an international mission. The U.S. has backed a blistering Saudi-led campaign of air strikes in Yemen, and Ambassador Keith Harper told The Associated Press on Monday that the U.S. ultimately hopes for a compromise.

The Dutch want the office of U.N. Human Rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein to send a mission to report on possible abuses and conflict-related crimes in Yemen. The council now faces separate votes on the two proposals before its three-week session ends on Friday, though diplomatic efforts are under way to overcome differences, officials said.

In a text message to the AP, Harper said the U.S. supports the Dutch proposal, including the involvement of Zeid's office. "However we believe that the council speaks most powerfully when unified so we are working with all parties to find a consensus solution," he said. The Saudi and Dutch delegations did not immediately respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

The council has no power to compel countries to act, but its actions can shine a spotlight on human rights violations.

Saudi Arabia has led a coalition supporting Yemen's government against Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, and others. The U.N. estimates some 2,100 civilians have died since Yemen's war escalated in March. Air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition have often mistakenly hit civilians in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country.

One such strike on Monday hit a wedding party in Taiz, killing 38 people and wounding at least 40.

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Nour Youssef contributed from Cairo.