Arab League summit kicks off with focus on Jerusalem conflict, Syrian crisis

Riyadh aiming to pressure Tehran at summit

Arab leaders opened their annual summit in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran on Sunday.

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

The AL chief also slammed Iran for its support for the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, saying the Arab states should unite with Saudi Arabia against Iran. The crisis has presented significant challenges to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as it attempts to deal with economic and security issues.

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.

In his opening speech at the Arab League summit, Salman also criticised the controversial USA decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem but avoided any mention of Syria, just 24 hours after Western strikes against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud referred to the Palestinian issue as the top agenda of the Arab meeting.

The summit will also discuss regional and global issues and push forward worldwide efforts to combat terrorism.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Thursday that Qatar's crisis would not be on the table at the Arab League summit, Al Arabiya reported.

According to the report, HM King Abdullah II said that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the cornerstone of finding solutions to the region's crises, and that Jerusalem is the key to its security and stability.

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