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Mini-Arab Summit Produces Unity Pledge

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have pledged to take a uniform approach to Arab policies.

King Abdullah welcomed Mr. Assad and the leaders of Egypt and Kuwait for a one-day summit in Riyadh Wednesday to try to repair relations damaged by Syria's ties to non-Arab Iran.

A joint statement issued at the end of the day noted that the four leaders believe the meeting "heralds the start of a new phase in relations" based on seeking to serve Arab interests through cooperation.

Inter-Arab relations have been strained by Mr. Assad's dismissal of Saudi and other leaders as "half-men" for failing to support Iran-backed Hezbollah in its 2006 war with Israel.

Saudi Arabia, along with the U.S., the European Union and others, have recently been trying to push Syria further away from seeking Iran's long-time support.

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, recently called for Arab unity in the face of what he called the "Iranian challenge."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was expected to bring up Syria's support of Hamas, the target of Israel's recent offensive in the Gaza Strip. Cairo has been trying to mediate a truce among Hamas and rival Palestinian factions and between them and Israel, efforts some negotiators believe are undermined by Syria's position.

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah also attended the meeting.

The one-day meeting comes ahead of a larger Arab summit planned for later this month in Qatar.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.