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Middle East

France to host Yemen humanitarian conference

media A child at the site of a carbomb attack in Aden REUTERS/Fawaz Salman

French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman confirmed that Paris will host an international conference on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen at the end of June in a phone call on Tuesday.

The two men agreed the conference would take place during bin Salman's visit to Paris in April and confirmed that it will take place at the end of next month during their conversation Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE head a coalition of Sunni-Muslim countries that has been fighting Houthi rebels since March 2015.

The war in Yemen has cost at least 10,000 lives and seen more than 55,000 wounded, with a cholera epidemic killing 2,200 more civilians and millions on the brink of famine, according to the World Health Organisation.

The UN considers the situation "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world".

When a number of NGOs raised fears that French arms sold to Saudi Arabia were being used in the conflict, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux replied that the sales "have a clear interest for French industry".

Iran nuclear deal

Macron and bin Salman "discussed the reforms taking place" in Saudi Arabia and "the question of human rights was raised in this context, to follow up on the discussions between the two men in Paris in April", a French presidential statement said.

Macron also repeated France's support for the Iran nuclear deal and called for "peaceful and negotiated" solution to the crises in the region, including the Syrian conflict and the Yemeni war, the statement said.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday said that US President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Iran deal will strengthen conservatives in Iran against President Hassan Rouhani, who is prepared to negotiate with the big powers.

"In the end, this posture risks putting the region in a more dangerous situation than it is in today," he told France Inter radio.

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