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

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

Saudi Arabia, which takes over the rotating chair of the Arab summit from Jordan, announced that the current gathering would be named the "Quds (Jerusalem) Summit", a reference to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision previous year to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel which Arab states condemned.

Instead the king focused on rivalries with longtime foe Iran - only 160 kilometers (100 miles) across the Gulf from Dhahran.

"We strongly condemn the terrorist acts carried out by Iran in the region and reject its blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries", he said.

And despite being a stalwart ally of the United States, he also criticised US President Donald Trump controversial decision to transfer America's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"We reiterate our rejection of the USA administration's decision on Jerusalem", the King said, adding, "We commend the worldwide consensus that rejects it".

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem - occupied by Israel since 1967 - might eventually serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old son of the king and heir to the region's most powerful throne, had days earlier said Israel also had a right to its own state during a tour of the United States.

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The remark suggested increasing rapprochement with Israel, which like Riyadh, sees Tehran as its arch rival. Salman told leaders from across the 22-member Arab League that Iran was to blame for instability and meddling in the region.

Not at the summit is Qatar, which has been cut off from its Gulf allies over accusations of ties to Iran and support for extremists - claims denied by Doha.

The Arab Summit started on Sunday its 29th ordinary session at King Abdulaziz International Cultural Centre in Dhahran.

The two regional titans, locked in proxy wars in Syria and in Saudi Arabia's southern neighbour Yemen, back opposing parties in Iraq and Lebanon.

Iran is backing Houthi rebels that Riyadh opposes in Yemen and on Sunday Salman praised "the UN Security Council's statement denouncing the Iranian-made ballistic missile fire on Saudi cities".

Among the leaders in attendance was Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, who walked the red carpet and was greeted by King Salman.

Despite widespread Arab condemnation of the suspected chemical attack, the Dhahran summit is unlikely to call for Assad to step down. Syria has been suspended from the pan-Arab body since 2011 over the regime's actions in the war.


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