New UN envoy on Yemen sets off for region; talks planned in Riyadh, then possibly Geneva

The new U.N. envoy for Yemen is on his way to the region for "intensive consultations," while the U.N. tries to organize a conference on the crisis as soon as possible on neutral ground.

The U.N. says Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed started Wednesday in Paris, meeting the Gulf Coordination Council secretary-general.

Ahmed goes to the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Thursday to talk with Yemen's president and vice president and Saudi officials.

He then will visit other regional capitals to meet with representatives of parties in the conflict. That might include the Shiite Houthi rebels who are the target of Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen.

Saudi-led talks are planned in Riyadh later this month. The U.N. has not announced a date for its own talks, with Geneva a possible venue.