Saudi donates $200 mln to Jerusalem, UNRWA

By Fares Karam

RIYADH (AA) – Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz on Sunday donated $150 million to Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, an agency tasked with overseeing the Islamic holy sites in East Jerusalem.

Speaking at the annual Arab summit in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran, the Saudi monarch also offered $50 million in aid to the UN refugee agency UNRWA.

"Palestine and its people are in the hearts of all Arabs and Muslims,” he told participants in the summit.

The Saudi king also announced that the one-day meeting would be named “Jerusalem Summit”.

Sixteen Arab leaders are attending the summit, which comes one day after the U.S., France and Britain launched joint airstrikes in Syria in the wake of a suspected chemical attack by regime forces.

The Syrian conflict, the Palestinian issue and alleged Iranian interference are expected to dominate discussions during the one-day event.

Sunday's summit comes three months after the U.S. officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, triggering world outcry.

One month after the U.S. decision, Washington announced in January that it was withholding $65 million in aid to UNRWA.

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.

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UPDATE – Arab summit opens in Saudi Arabia

*UPDATES WITH SAUDI KING'S SPEECH

By Mohamed Fahd

DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia (AA) – Arab leaders opened their annual summit in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran on Sunday.

Sixteen Arab leaders are attending the 29th summit, which comes one day after the U.S., France and Britain launched a joint airstrike in Syria in the wake of a suspected chemical attack by regime forces.

The Syrian conflict, the Palestinian issue and alleged Iranian interference are expected to dominate discussions during the one-day event.

In his opening speech to the summit, Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz reiterated that East Jerusalem will remain part of the Palestinian territories.

"The Palestinian cause has been and will always be our main cause until the Palestinians regain their rights," he said.

"East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories," he stressed.

Sunday’s summit comes three months after the U.S. officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, triggering world outcry.

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.

Turning to the ongoing conflict in neighboring Yemen, the Saudi king reiterated commitment to Yemen’s unity and territorial integrity.

He underlined his support for efforts aimed at reaching a political solution to the conflict in Yemen, which fell into civil war in 2014 when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The Saudi monarch renewed accusations for Iran of supporting terrorism and interfering in Arab affairs.

"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.

On Saturday, the umbrella Arab League said the summit will not discuss Gulf crisis, which was triggered by last year’s cut-off of diplomatic ties between four Arab states and Qatar amid accusations for Doha of supporting terrorism.

The last Arab summit was held in Jordan last year.

Arab summit opens in Saudi Arabia

DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia (AA) – Arab leaders opened their annual summit in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran on Sunday.

Sixteen Arab leaders are attending the summit, which comes one day after the U.S., France and Britain launched a joint airstrike in Syria in the wake of a suspected chemical attack by regime forces.

The Syrian conflict, the Palestinian issue and alleged Iranian interference are expected to dominate discussions during the one-day event.

On Saturday, the umbrella Arab League said the summit will not discuss Gulf crisis, which was triggered by last year’s cut-off of diplomatic ties between four Arab states and Qatar amid accusations for Doha of supporting terrorism.

Sunday’s summit comes three months after the U.S. officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, triggering world outcry.

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.

UPDATE – Arab FMs meet in Saudi Arabia ahead of Dammam summit

UPDATES WITH ABOUL-GHEIT, AL-JUBEIR REMARKS

RIYADH (AA) – A preparatory meeting of Arab foreign ministers convened Thursday in the Saudi city of Dammam in advance of an Arab League summit slated for Sunday.

The meeting was led by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who received the Arab League's rotating chairmanship from Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi in the presence of league Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit.

Addressing the meeting, Aboul-Gheit said the decline of Arab influence on the situation in Syria had led to the “domination of foreign powers” in that country, paving the way for Syria’s eventual disintegration.

“The crisis in Syria can only be resolved through a political solution,” Aboul-Gheit said.

“The crises now wracking some countries of the region have allowed external forces to intervene in an unprecedented manner, aggravating and prolonging these crises,” he added.

The Arab League chief went on to decry perceived “Iranian interference” on Arab affairs, which, he said, “serves to undermine regional peace and security”.

Al-Jubeir, for his part, said there could be “no peace and security [in the region] as long as Iran continues to interfere in the domestic affairs of Arab states”.

“Tehran and terrorism are allies,” he said. “This is reflected by Tehran’s continued support for [Yemen’s] Houthi rebels.”

Al-Jubeir went on to allege that more than 100 missiles had been fired recently into Saudi territory from neighboring Yemen.

“Extremism and terrorism constitute major threats to our countries and must be firmly dealt with,” the Saudi foreign minister said.

The 29th Arab League summit will convene on Sunday in Dammam.

Gulf crisis not on Arab summit agenda: Qatar

By Mohamed Fahd

DOHA, Qatar (AA) – The Arab summit will not discuss the Gulf crisis during its session in mid-April, a spokesperson for the Qatari Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

In exclusive statements to Anadolu Agency, Lolwah al-Khater said Qatar has received an official invitation from Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul-Gheit to attend the summit in Saudi Arabia on April 15.

Doha has not yet decided on its representation level at the summit, she said.

The spokesperson ruled out that the Gulf crisis will be discussed during the meeting.

“Qatar, however, is committed to pursuing dialogue to resolve the crisis,” she said.

“We have repeatedly reiterated our commitment to dialogue to resolve the crisis without undermining Qatar’s sovereignty and national interests,” the spokesperson said.

Meetings to prepare for the annual summit are scheduled to start in Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Last summer, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain collectively severed ties with Qatar, creating one of the biggest crises in inter-Arab relations in recent history.

The four accuse Doha of supporting terrorism, a claim vehemently denied by Qatar.

Arab summit in Riyadh in mid-April: Arab League

By Khaled Ibrahim

CAIRO (AA) – The upcoming Arab summit will be held in Saudi capital Riyadh on April 15, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul-Gheit said Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Cairo, Abul-Gheit said the pan-Arab body has been officially informed by Saudi Arabia that the summit will be held in mid-April.

“Preparatory meetings will be held as of April 9 ahead of the summit,” he said.

The summit had been originally set to be held in late March, but the date was changed due to Egypt’s presidential election, which is scheduled to be held later this month.

On March 7, Saudi Minister of State for African Affairs Ahmad Qattan said that the planned summit had been postponed during an Arab ministerial meeting in Cairo.

The last Arab summit was held in Jordan in March 2017.

Lebanon president falls over at start of Arab summit

By Mohamed Mahmoud

CAIRO (AA) – Lebanese President Michel Aoun fell face down at the start of the annual Arab League summit on Wednesday.

Video footage showed Aoun tripping and falling at the red-carpeted podium before being helped back to his feet by King Abdullah II of Jordan.

A day earlier, Dubai ruler and UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum stumbled as he got off his plane in Amman.

Eighteen Arab leaders are attending the one-day summit, which opened on the shores of the Dead Sea.

Conflicts in several Arab countries are expected to figure high on the agenda, particularly those in Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Jordan is hosting the summit after Yemen declined due to the ongoing conflict. The last summit was hosted by Mauritania.

UPDATE – Arab League summit opens in Jordan

*UPDATE WITH JORDANIAN KING REMARKS, MORE DETAILS

By Laith al-Junaidi

DEAD SEA, Jordan (AA) – The annual Arab League summit kicked off on Wednesday in the Dead Sea region in Jordan.

The one-day summit is attended by 18 Arab leaders, while King Mohamed VI of Morocco has failed to show up for unannounced reasons.

The raging conflicts in several Arab countries are expected to figure high on the agenda of the meeting, particularly the situation in Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Addressing the opening session, Jordanian King Abdullah II said solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the key to establishing peace in the Middle East.

“Israel continues to expand settlements and undermine chances for achieving peace,” he said.

“There will be no peace or stability without reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue,” the monarch said.

The Jordanian leader went on to call for rallying efforts to counter terrorism.

“Terrorism threatens Arabs and Muslims more than anyone else,” he said. “Most victims of terrorism are Muslims.”

Jordan is hosting the summit after Yemen refused to host it due to the ongoing conflict in the country, which fell into civil war in 2014 after Houthi rebels overran capital Sanaa and other provinces.

The last Arab summit was hosted by Mauritania last year.

Jordan not notified of Moroccan king’s absence: Source

By Laith al-Junaidi

DEAD SEA, Jordan (AA) – Jordan has not received any official notification about cancelling the participation of Moroccan King Mohamed VI in the Arab summit, a high-level Jordanian government source said Wednesday.

The one-day summit opened in the Dead Sea in Jordan earlier on Wednesday with the participation of 18 Arab leaders.

The Moroccan monarch, however, has failed to show up for the summit for unannounced reasons.

Conflicts in several Arab countries are expected to figure high on the agenda of the summit, particularly the situation in Syria, Yemen and Libya as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Jordan is hosting the summit after Yemen refused to host it due to the conflict in the country, which fell into civil war in 2014 after Houthi rebels overran capital Sanaa and other provinces.

The last Arab summit was held in Mauritania last year.

Arab League summit opens in Jordan

By Laith al-Junaidi

DEAD SEA, Jordan (AA) – The annual Arab League summit kicked off on Wednesday in the Dead Sea in Jordan.

The one-day summit is attended by 18 Arab leaders, while King Mohamed VI of Morocco has failed to show up for unannounced reasons.

The raging conflicts in several Arab countries are expected to figure high on the agenda of the meeting, particularly the situation in Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Jordan is hosting the summit after Yemen refused to host it due to the ongoing conflict in the country, which fell into civil war in 2014 after Houthi rebels overran capital Sanaa and other provinces.

The last Arab summit was hosted by Mauritania last year.