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U.S. envoy says a diplomatic solution for Yemen will have to be found

U.S. special envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking, attends an interview with Reuters in Amman

DUBAI (Reuters) - The U.S. designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group puts "additional pressure" on the group that may discourage attacks on ships in the Red Sea, but ultimately a diplomatic solution will have to be found in Yemen, the U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen said on Wednesday.

The Iran-aligned Houthis, who control Yemen's capital and most populous areas, have attacked international shipping in the Red Sea since November in what they say is solidarity with the Palestinians, drawing U.S. and British retaliatory strikes since February.

Envoy Tim Lenderking said the purpose of the strikes was to destroy the Houthis' ability to attack ships.

The Houthi attacks are undermining progress in the peace process in the broader Yemeni conflict, Lenderking said after holding meetings in Saudi Arabia and Oman.

"We favour a diplomatic solution, we know that there is no military solution," he said.

Saudi Arabia mediating between the Houthis and the internationally recognised Yemeni government "gives us some hope that we can use this moment to get beyond current tensions", he added.

He said there has been a 15% reduction in ships being able to dock at Yemen's Hodeidah port, obstructing humanitarian aid.

(Reporting by Yousef Saba; Writing by Clauda Tanios; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Alison Williams)