Saudi king slams Iranian 'interference,' US Jerusalem move at Arab summit

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The 29th Arab Summit concluded in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, with a call for unity to provide necessary Arab support for the Palestinian cause.

But King Salman avoided any mention of Syria in his address, as a seat marked "Syrian Arab Republic" sat empty in the hall.

"We reiterate our rejection of the USA decision on Jerusalem", Salman said.

"East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories", he added.

They stressed importance of reaching a cohesive and everlasting peace in the Middle East in accordance with the 2002 Beirut Summit's Arab peace initiative.

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Opening the 29th Arab League summit, the king criticised the USA decision to transfer its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and described "terrorism" as the biggest challenge facing Arab leaders.

The summit will offer an opportunity for Arab leaders to hold smaller meetings on the sidelines to discuss and coordinate on a wide range of issues, including how to move forward on Syria, how to handle the tense situation in Gaza, and what to do about Libya.

"The Saudis are going to push for a much harsher stance on Iran-not necessarily on the nuclear dossier per se, but on Iranian influence in the Arab countries, particularly Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen", said Karim Bitar of the Paris-based Institute of global and Strategic Affairs.

On Sunday, King Salman made it clear he was unhappy with Mr Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, an opinion backed by the other leaders at the summit.

Arab ministers at a preliminary meeting in Riyadh on Thursday focused heavily on blocking the embassy move, unanimously condemning Trump's decision.

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Saudi Arabia is pushing for a tough, unified stance against its regional arch-rival Iran at the annual gathering of the 22-member Arab League.

The global fraternity was asked to toughen sanctions on Iran and its militias, prevent it from supporting terrorist groups, supplying Houthi militias with missiles manufactured in Iran and launched from Yemen toward Saudi cities and to abide by the UN Resolution No. 2216.

Not on the table at the summit, according to Krieg, is Qatar, cut off from its Gulf allies over accusations of ties to Iran and support for Islamist extremists-claims denied by Doha.

Iran has always been a supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and backs Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement, whose fighters are deployed in Syria alongside regime forces.

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