December 10, 2023

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Iran president lands in Saudi Arabia for Gaza summit

RIYADH: Iran‘s President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for a summit on Gaza, state-affiliated media reported, his first visit since the two countries agreed to restore ties in March.
The emergency meeting of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) comes after Hamas militants’ bloody October 7 attacks that Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people and resulted in about 240 taken hostage.
Israel’s subsequent aerial and ground offensive has killed more than 11,000 people, mostly civilians and many of them children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
Middle East leaders have called for a ceasefire while warning the conflict risks drawing in other countries, a threat Raisi on Saturday blamed on Washington’s staunch support for Israel.
“The war machine in Gaza belongs to the US,” he said before departing for Riyadh. “The US has prevented the ceasefire in Gaza and is expanding the scope of the war.”
Footage aired on the Al-Ekhbariya channel showed Raisi, wearing a traditional Palestinian keffiyeh scarf, greeting Saudi officials at the airport after disembarking from his plane.
Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia and Shiite-majority Iran severed ties in 2016 after Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran were attacked during protests over Riyadh’s execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
But in March, a China-brokered deal saw the long-time rivals agree to restore diplomatic relations and reopen their respective embassies.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have backed opposing sides in conflict zones across the Middle East for years, including in Yemen, where in 2015 Riyadh mobilised an international coalition against Iran-backed Huthi rebels who had toppled the internationally recognised government the previous year.
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