The United Arab Emirates' top diplomat says the Saudi-led coalition conducting airstrikes in Yemen cannot rule out any options, including ground troops, as he defended the Gulf intervention in the troubled Arab nation.

Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan made the comments Wednesday during a visit by Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassen to the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi.

He says Gulf nations such as his that are conducting airstrikes against Iranian-backed Shiite rebels "will truly regret it" if they do not stand by Yemen's government.

Sheikh Abdullah characterized the conflict as part of a broader pattern of Iranian effort to export its Islamic revolution and expand its influence in the region.

Iran and the rebels deny the Islamic Republic provides military assistance.