Hamas delegation meets Mauritanian president

By Mohamed Bakay

NOUAKCHOTT (AA) – A delegation from the Palestinian resistance faction Hamas on Monday met with Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in Nouakchott, the capital of the northwest African country.

The Hamas delegation included its foreign relations official, Osama Hamdan, and the group's spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri.

Following the talks, Hamdan said in a press statement that the delegation explained to Aziz "the latest developments in the Palestinian issue, especially in light of the so-called ‘deal of the century,’ which is aimed at damaging the Palestinian cause."

He said they explained to Aziz "the situation of the Gaza Strip under the siege still imposed by the Zionist entity,” Israel.

"We assured him that the Palestinian people refuse to give up their rights and their land, Jerusalem and the right of return," said the statement.

Hamdan and Abu Zuhri arrived in Nouakchott on Saturday to take part in a rally on the issue of Jerusalem.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.

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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.