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Saudi King Visits Syria


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Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah arrived in Syria for a two-day visit aimed at mending ties between the two rival nations.

King Abdullah was greeted at the Damascus airport Wednesday by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The two headed straight to the presidential palace for talks on regional issues.

The visit is the first by a Saudi ruler since the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria has been widely blamed for the death. However, officials in Damascus have denied any responsibility.

The two nations have also been at odds over Saudi Arabia's support for the United States, as well as Syria's close relationship with Iran and it's support for Lebanon's Hezbollah militants.

Relations have improved since then, with Saudi Arabia appointing an ambassador in July after leaving the post vacant for more than a year.

Many hope that improved ties between the two nations will ease tensions in the region and promote the formation of a new government in Lebanon.

Since June's parliamentary elections, Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, the son of Rafik Hariri, has been trying to form a new unity government that includes the Shiite Hezbollah group. But his efforts have faltered, mainly because of disagreements over the cabinet's makeup.


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

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