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Saudi hosts Arab leaders to try to undermine Iran

world Updated: Mar 11, 2009 19:56 IST

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Saudi Arabia is hosting the leaders of Egypt and Syria on Wednesday in an effort to persuade Damascus to move away from Iran and instead work with US-allied Arab countries to blunt Tehran's influence.

Saudi Arabia hopes the one-day mini-Arab summit will help improve the frayed relations with Syria ahead of a larger Arab summit in Qatar later this month.

Syria has been bitterly feuding with Egypt and Saudi Arabia over several political issues especially its close alliance with Iran and militant Palestinian and Lebanese groups.

But ahead of today's meeting, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak cast doubt whether the leaders will be able to come to any agreement. Egypt has repeatedly accused Iran, which along with Syria backs the militant Palestinian Hamas group, of trying to thwart Cairo's mediate efforts between rival Palestinian factions.

"Egypt has responded favourably to calls for reconciliation, despite the fact that some continue to overshadow the climate of reconciliation with positions that reflect schemes forged outside our Arab region," Mubarak said yesterday.

Egypt's foreign minister also accused Iran of trying to impose its influence in the region.