Arab leaders gather to unify ranks in face of conflict, wars

Arab leaders gather to unify ranks in face of conflict, wars

"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.

Saudi King Salman told leaders from across the 22-member Arab League that Iran was to blame for instability and meddling in the region.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, on Sunday slammed Iran's "blatant interference" in regional affairs as Arab leaders met in the kingdom for an annual gathering.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi made the remarks early on Monday in response to the final communique of Arab League's 29th summit.

Syria has been suspended from the organization for the past seven years over Assad's initial crackdown on protests before the uprising turned into all-out war.

Participants will condemn Iran's continued interference in the internal Arab affairs during the summit that is taking place in the eastern province of Dhahran of Saudi Arabia, and will urge Iran to exhibit a good neighbourly policy and refrain from using force or threatening to use force against neighbours.

Discussions during the summit will shed light on the crisis in Syria following a tripartite strike by the US, France and the United Kingdom on several military and research targets in Syria.

The stand-off between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt is also not expected to feature.

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The Gulf states have donated large amounts of money to help refugees from the country but have not officially offered them asylum.

Summits of the Arab League, established in 1945, rarely result in action.

Iran also supports the Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen in their war against the Saudi-backed government.

Minister Awad who reached Saudi Arabia on Thursday attended the preparatory meeting on Friday ahead of the Summit.

Reporters watch the speech of Saudi King Salman from a press room, during the opening of the Arab summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, April 15, 2018.

The strongest criticism of the Trump administration came from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who slammed USA decisions on Jerusalem and its decision to withhold millions of dollars to the United Nations agency that provides health care, education and social services to an estimated five million Palestinians.

"There are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries", he said.

While Saudi Arabia does not officially recognise Israel, Prince Mohammed told U.S. magazine The Atlantic that Israelis, like Palestinians, had a right to their own land.

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