LAUSANNE, Switzerland — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday Yemen's Houthi rebels have released two U.S. citizens.
He said they were freed as part of a complicated diplomatic arrangement that included airlifts for Yemenis wounded by an airstrike this past week by a Saudi-led coalition. The Americans were taken safely to Muscat in neighboring Oman after Omani officials mediated their release and the Yemenis were sent for treatment.
Kerry will not be identifying their names to the public.
"We are deeply grateful to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said and the Government of Oman for their assistance in facilitating and supporting the release of our citizens. We recognize the humanitarian gesture by the Houthis in releasing these U.S. citizens. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of any other U.S. citizens who may still be held," Mark Toner, White House deputy spokesman, said.
Kerry said the U.S. has been working on such efforts for the past few days and is pushing for a cease-fire in Yemen that would allow the country's internationally recognized government and the Iran-backed Houthis to return to negotiations.
Consular officers from the U.S. Embassy in Muscat stand ready to provide all possible consular assistance.
A foreign ministry official told the broadcaster Omani state media that Oman had worked with Yemeni authorities in Sanaa to secure the Americans' release.