WASHINGTON (AP) — An Iranian cargo ship loaded with aid bound for Yemen arrived in Djibouti on Thursday and is anchored offshore, a U.S. official said.
Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said the ship is in Djibouti waters and will dock “within hours.”
The diversion of the ship to the small African country where the U.N. is coordinating the response to Yemen’s conflict would defuse a potential crisis with Saudi Arabia, which had warned the ship not to proceed directly to Yemen. Iran had provided the ship with a naval escort and warned against any interference.
Iran supports the Shiite rebels in Yemen, known as Houthis, who seized the capital last year, but Tehran denies arming them. Saudi Arabia views the rebels as an Iranian proxy and has led a coalition in air raids against them since March 26, hoping to restore to power Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who has fled the country.
U.S. officials said the ship had been heading toward Djibouti for much of the day, escorted by a frigate and a logistical ship known as an oiler. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, so they spoke on condition of anonymity.
U.S. officials earlier this week said they believed there was no lethal aid or weapons in the ship.
Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran contributed to this report.