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Saudi hosts Arab leaders to try to undermine Iran

 Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, welcomes Syrian President Bashar Assad before a meeting with The King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, unseen, in t...
 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, center speaks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, left, and Syrian President Bashar Assad before a meeting in the S...
 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, right, welcomes Syrian President Bashar Assad upon his arrival in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Wednesday, March 11, 2009....

Mideast Saudi Arabia Arab Summit

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, welcomes Syrian President Bashar Assad before a meeting with The King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, unseen, in t...

Mideast Saudi Arabia Arab Summit

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, center speaks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, left, and Syrian President Bashar Assad before a meeting in the S...

Mideast Saudi Arabia Arab Summit

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, right, welcomes Syrian President Bashar Assad upon his arrival in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Wednesday, March 11, 2009....

Saudi Arabia is hosting the leaders of Egypt and Syria on Wednesday in an effort to persuade Damascus to move away from Iran and instead work with U.S.-allied Arab countries to blunt Tehran's influence.
Saudi Arabia hopes the one-day mini-Arab summit will help improve the frayed relations with Syria ahead of a larger Arab summit in Qatar later this month.
Syria has been bitterly feuding with Egypt and Saudi Arabia over several political issues _ especially its close alliance with Iran and militant Palestinian and Lebanese groups.
But ahead of Wednesday meeting, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak cast doubt whether the leaders will be able to come to any agreement. Egypt has repeatedly accused Iran, which along with Syria backs the militant Palestinian Hamas group, of trying to thwart Cairo's mediate efforts between rival Palestinian factions.
"Egypt has responded favorably to calls for reconciliation, despite the fact that some continue to overshadow the climate of reconciliation with positions that reflect schemes forged outside our Arab region," Mubarak said Tuesday.
Egypt's foreign minister also accused Iran of trying to impose its influence in the region. Ahmed Aboul Gheit told Egyptian state television Tuesday that "Iran is manipulating Arab states and entities to increase its influence."
The leader of another U.S. ally, Kuwait, is also attending the Saudi gathering Wednesday, Kuwait's news agency reported.
Iran and Syria also back the Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group in Lebanon, which predominantly Sunni Egypt and Saudi Arabia oppose.
Syrian-Saudi relations became strained after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who had Saudi citizenship. The assassination has been blamed on Syria, which denies the charge.
Relations soured even more after Syrian President Bashar Assad, after the summer 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, described leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan as half-men for their failure to act to stop the violence.


Updated : 2021-01-23 14:09 GMT+08:00