The move was unrelated to negotiations over the 2015 nuclear deal, a State Department spokesman said. The United States also imposed new sanctions on other Iranians.
Talks between the two regional powers, if successful, could start to lower the temperature on several conflicts across the Middle East.
The Biden administration is close to completing a review of Trump-era weapons sales to the two Gulf Arab states. Democrats in Congress oppose the deals.
Lawmakers have continued to press for harsher action and a wholesale rethinking of the American stance toward the kingdom.
For the second time in three years, the threat of widespread famine hangs over the war-torn country, where millions are displaced and struggle daily to find food.
The Saudis described the proposal as a plan to end a nearly six-year-old war. The kingdom faces growing pressure to break the stalemate as millions of Yemenis verge on famine.
Requiring higher-level approval is a stopgap measure as officials review whether to tighten Trump-era targeting rules and civilian safeguards.
Several times in recent years, migrants trying to cross between Djibouti and Yemen have been thrown into the sea.
The popular uprisings of 2011 mostly failed, but they gave the region a taste for democracy that continues to whet an appetite for change.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the designation of the Houthi rebels would be formally revoked next week, in “recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
Critics of the Trump administration action said the penalties would punish the millions of starving people in Yemen more than the Houthi rebels.
Nearly six years of war have shattered Yemen in a way that could thwart efforts to make peace, regardless of whether American bombs are no longer used.
The president said that he would end support for Saudi Arabia in its intervention in Yemen and that the U.S. would no longer be “rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions.”
In the first foreign policy speech of his administration, the president said he would rebuild “the muscle of democratic alliances that have atrophied over the past few years of neglect and, I would argue, abuse.”
The United Nations had planned to start a maritime salvage operation to prevent leaks from a dilapidated tanker holding four times the oil that spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster. But Houthi insurgents have failed to provide a written security guarantee, the U.N. said.
Officials called the review standard for a new administration, but many Democrats critical of the Gulf States want the president to cancel the deals.
U.N. officials say that the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization could choke food deliveries to Yemen, where millions face starvation.
The Trump administration did not wait to put in place legal protections for aid workers, a lapse that officials said could halt shipments of food, medicine, gasoline and other assistance.
The State Department’s terrorist designation may be more symbolic than searing for the rebel movement, but it could aggravate Yemen’s human catastrophe.
For several years, each year was the best in human history. Then 2020 came along.
The blast, which killed at least 16 people and wounded 60 more, took place just before a plane carrying cabinet officials landed at the Aden airport.
Diplomatic sweeteners for joining the Abraham Accords that were offered to Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates could be rejected by Congress or reversed by the incoming Biden administration.
Officials have been waiting since July to inspect and repair the FSO Safer, a stricken tanker off the Yemen coast. Houthi rebels have finally given approval, the U.N. said.
Saudi Arabia’s leaders counted on President Trump’s unwavering support, but President-elect Biden has vowed to take away the kingdom’s “dangerous blank check.”
Sandra Loli and Mikael Gidada were freed in an agreement with the United States and Oman that allowed 200 Houthi fighters to return to war-ravaged Yemen.
Starvation again threatens war-afflicted Yemen, where the U.N. has halved food rations for lack of funding. “If we get the money, we still may have famine,” the head of the U.N. anti-hunger agency said.
The Trump administration argues that its partnership with Saudi Arabia helps reduce civilian killings in Yemen. But State Department investigators and other U.S. officials say the efforts are flawed.
State Department officials have raised alarms about the legal risk in aiding airstrikes that kill civilians. The Trump administration recently suppressed findings as it sold more weapons to Gulf nations.
The inspector general also found the State Department avoided congressional review by dividing sales of controversial arms into smaller packages.
A rusting vessel used for years to store oil off Yemen’s coast poses what the United Nations has called a dire and entirely preventable threat of ecological catastrophe.
Military sales were suspended over concerns about Saudi human rights violations in Yemen. Now, Britain argues that Saudi violations there are “isolated incidents.”
Migrants say Houthi militia who control northern Yemen are brutally forcing them out of their territory and into dangerous situations.
Lacking equipment, expertise and authority, a divided, war-torn country bobbles a response to a surging pandemic.
Vaccinations worldwide have dropped as the fight against the coronavirus continues.
A Democratic House committee chairman said the investigation might have been “another reason” for the firing of the inspector general, Steve A. Linick.
Thousands of civilians have died in Yemen, and American-made bombs sold to the Saudis have played a key role as the White House has sought to boost the arms industry.
President Trump sees arms deals as jobs generators for firms like Raytheon, which has made billions in sales to the Saudi coalition. The Obama administration initially backed the Saudis too, but later regretted it as thousands died.
A handful of coronavirus cases in Aden appeared to confirm fears that the virus has been spreading, stoking concerns of an outbreak that could quickly overwhelm Yemen’s devastated health system.
A declaration of self-rule by Yemeni separatists has complicated Saudi efforts to withdraw from the war.