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Last Updated: Monday, 24 March 2008, 15:21 GMT

Saudi king to boycott Arab summit

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a strong supporter of the Lebanese government

Saudi Arabia has said King Abdullah will not attend a forthcoming summit of Arab leaders in Syria.

The Saudi delegation will only be led by its Arab League ambassador.

The Saudis had already indicated that King Abdullah might not attend because of a rift with Syria over the current political crisis in Lebanon.

The crisis has seen Lebanon politically paralysed, with the government and opposition in Beirut unable to agree on a new president since November.

Lebanon has also been gripped by a political violence, including a string of assassinations of anti-Syrian figures.

Saudi Arabia supports the Western-leaning majority in the Lebanese parliament, while the Lebanese opposition is backed by Syria and Iran; each side blames the other for blocking a deal.

It is still unclear if Lebanon will boycott the summit, but on Monday, Beirut's delegate to the Arab League did not attend a preparatory meeting.

The heads of state of the Arab League meet annually - this year's meeting is scheduled for 29 and 30 March.

Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon in 2005, after a presence of nearly 30 years, under strong Lebanese and international pressure.

SEE ALSO
Beirut PM invited to Syria summit
13 Mar 08 |  Middle East
Profile: Arab League
21 Nov 07 |  Country profiles

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