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Saudi King criticizes Iran's "interference" as Arab leaders meet

Dhahran (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) – King Salman of Saudi Arabia harshly criticized Iran's "flagrant interference" in regional affairs as Arab leaders met in the kingdom for an annual meeting.

Opening the 29th Arab League summit, King also criticized the US decision to transfer its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and described "terrorism" as the biggest challenge facing Arab leaders.

Seventeen leaders from all over the Arab world, minus Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, met in the eastern city of Saudi Arabia in Dhahran for the summit, which this year occurs when world powers confront Syria and increase the tensions between Riyadh and Tehran.

The meeting opened only 24 hours after a barrage of strikes launched by the United States and Great Britain and France attacked targets that they said were related to the development of chemical weapons in Syria, which was suspended seven years ago. years.

But King Salman avoided mentioning Syria in his direction, as a marked seat The "Syrian Arab Republic" was empty in the lobby.

Instead, the king focused on rivalries with Iran's long-time enemy, only 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the Gulf from Dharan.

"We renew our strong condemnation of Iran's terrorist acts in the Arab region and reject its flagrant interference in the affairs of the Arab countries," the king said.

And despite being an unconditional ally of the United States, the president also criticized the controversial decision of US President Donald Trump to transfer the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"We reiterate our rejection of the United States' decision on Jerusalem," Salman said. "East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories"

– Donation for East Jerusalem –

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

King Salman announced on Sunday a $ 150 million donation for the maintenance of Islamic heritage in East Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia is pushing for a tough and unified stance against its Iranian archrival Iran at the 22-member Arab League annual meeting.

The two regional titans endorse opposite sides in a series of access points in the Middle East, including Lebanon and Syria and in the southern neighbor of Saudi Arabia Yemen.

Iran backs the Shiite Huthi rebels opposed by Riyadh in Yemen and on Sunday Salman praised "the UN Security Council declaration denouncing the ballistic missile fire made by Iran in Saudi cities".

Last month the Security Council issued a statement condemning Huthi for my ssile attack on Saudi Arabia, but do not name Iran.

In February, Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution that would have expressed concern over Iran's failure to block the supply of missiles to the Yemeni Houthi rebels.

The summit also includes Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar locked in a months-long diplomatic clash, with Riyadh accusing Doha of supporting Islamic extremists and being too close to Iran.

Tensions have eased slightly in recent months, but Qatar still sent its representative to the Arab League Dhahran Summit.

Among the leaders who attended was Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, who walked the red carpet and was received by King Salman. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for five counts of crimes against humanity, three for genocide and two for war crimes.

The Summits of the Arab League, established in 1945, rarely result in action. The last time the bloc made a concrete move was in 2011, when it suspended Syria's membership on the role of the Assad regime in the war.

The war in Syria, the most complex conflict in the region, is the main point of contention between Riyadh and its allies, which mainly support the Sunni rebels, against the backing of the Iranian regime and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

The Persian Gulf states have made massive donations to Syria but have not officially offered asylum to the Syrians.

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