Kerry speaks to Saudi leaders over Yemen strike: State Department

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement to the press prior to a bilateral meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on the crisis in Syria, at the State Department, in Washington, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince and foreign minister on Sunday to reiterate the United States’ “deep concern” about an air strike on a funeral gathering in Yemen, a State Department spokesman said.

The strike, which was widely blamed on Saudi-led warplanes, prompted the White House on Saturday to announce a review of Washington’s support to Saudi Arabia for its 18-month-old campaign in Yemen. The planes hit mourners at a community hall in the capital, Sanaa, on Saturday, killing 140 people, according to one U.N. estimate and 82, according to the Houthis.

Kerry spoke with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir and said he welcomed bin Salman’s commitment “to launch a thorough and immediate investigation of the strike,” according to the statement by State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

Kerry urged bin Salman to take “urgent steps to ensure such an incident does not happen again,” Toner said.

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Peter Cooney