UN says Saudis to meet with Secretary General


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince has requested a meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations said Friday.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants to discuss the controversy involving a Saudi-led coalition being placed on, and then removed, from a blacklist over the killing and injuring of about 1,200 children in the conflict in Yemen last year.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Friday confirmed the request without providing further details.

Last week, Ban said he temporarily removed the U.S.-backed coalition from the blacklist for violating child rights pending a joint review of cases because its supporters threatened to stop funding many U.N. programs. Ban said he stands by the report, which he said “describes horrors no child should have to face.”

Bin Salman is currently visiting the U.S. and met with President Barack Obama Friday.

In Washington, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said his country works hard to minimize civilian casualties in Yemen and uphold international humanitarian law.

“The air sorties that the kingdom and the coalition fly are recorded — both video and voice. We conduct after-damage assessments afterward,” he said. “We are confident that we have taken all necessary measures to minimize collateral damage or damage to civilians.”

“We do not target civilians. We are very careful about what targets we take out,” he said.

The report which led to the blacklisting said the U.N. verified a total of 1,953 youngsters killed and injured in Yemen in 2015 — a six-fold increase compared with 2014 — and it attributed about 60 percent of those casualties to the coalition. The U.N. said it also verified 101 attacks on schools and hospitals last year, double the number in 2014, of which 48 percent were attributed to the coalition.

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Associated Press writer Deb Reichmann contributed to this report from Washington.

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