by Natacha Yazbeck/ Agence France-Presse

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Sunday slammed Iran’s “blatant interference” in regional affairs as Arab leaders met within the kingdom for an annual gathering.

Opening the 29th Arab League summit, the king additionally criticised the US resolution to switch its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and described “terrorism” as the most important problem dealing with Arab leaders.

Seventeen leaders from throughout the Arab world — minus Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — gathered within the jap Saudi metropolis of Dhahran for the summit, which this yr comes as world powers face off over Syria and tensions rise between Riyadh and Tehran.

The assembly opened solely 24 hours after a barrage of strikes launched by the United States, Britain and France hit targets they mentioned had been linked to chemical weapons growth in Syria, which was suspended from the league seven years in the past.

But King Salman averted any point out of Syria in his handle, as a seat marked “Syrian Arab Republic” sat empty within the corridor.

Instead the king centered on rivalries with long-time foe Iran — solely 160 kilometres (100 miles) throughout the Gulf from Dharan.

“We renew our strong condemnation of Iran’s terrorist acts in the Arab region and reject its blatant interference in the affairs of Arab countries,” the king mentioned.

And regardless of being a stalwart ally of the United States, the ruler additionally criticised US President Donald Trump controversial resolution to switch America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“We reiterate our rejection of the US decision on Jerusalem,” Salman mentioned. “East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories.”

– Donation for East Jerusalem –
Arab ministers at a preliminary assembly in Riyadh on Thursday centered closely on blocking the transfer, unanimously condemning Trump’s resolution.

King Salman on Sunday introduced a $150 million donation for the upkeep of Islamic heritage in East Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia is pushing for a tricky, unified stance towards its regional arch-rival Iran on the annual gathering of the 22-member Arab League.

The two regional titans again opposing sides in a spread of hotspots throughout the Middle East, together with Lebanon and Syria and in Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbour Yemen.

Iran is backing Shiite Huthi rebels that Riyadh opposes in Yemen and on Sunday Salman praised “the UN Security Council’s statement denouncing the Iranian-made ballistic missile fire on Saudi cities.”

Last month the Security Council issued a press release condemning Huthi missile assaults on Saudi, however didn’t identify Iran.

In February, Russia vetoed a Security Council decision that might have expressed concern over Iran’s failure to dam provides of missiles to Yemen’s Huthi rebels.

The summit additionally comes with Saudi Arabia and Qatar locked in a months-long diplomatic standoff, with Riyadh accusing Doha of supporting Islamist extremists and being too near Iran.

Tensions have eased barely in latest months however Qatar nonetheless solely despatched its consultant to the Arab League to the Dhahran summit.

Among the leaders in attendance was Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, who walked the red carpet and was greeted by King Salman. Bashir is needed by the International Criminal Court for 5 counts of crimes towards humanity, three counts of genocide and two counts of conflict crimes.

Summits of the Arab League, established in 1945, not often end in motion. The final time the bloc made a concrete transfer was in 2011, when it suspended Syria’s membership over the Assad regime’s function within the conflict.

Syria’s conflict, essentially the most complicated of the area’s conflicts, is the primary level of competition pitting Riyadh and its allies, who primarily again Sunni rebels, towards regime backer Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

Gulf Arab states have made huge donations to Syria however haven’t formally provided asylum to Syrians.