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Saudi king attacks Trump over Israel embassy move

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has criticised Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The 82-year-old was speaking at the 29th annual Arab League summit in the oil-rich Saudi city of Dhahran.

King Salman, who travels rarely because of his declining health, said: “We reiterate our rejection of the US decision on Jerusalem.”

He added: “East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories.”

His words come just weeks after his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Donald Trump.

US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC
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US President Donald Trump said he and the Saudi leaders ‘understand each other’

Seemingly starstruck, the US President told Saudi Arabia’s next leader: “You are more than the crown prince now.”

Mr Trump then told reporters that the relationship between the two countries was “probably the strongest it has ever been”, adding: “We understand each other.”

Saudi Arabia, a long-time ally of the US, had also declared their support for Saturday’s strikes on Syria by the US, UK and France, although the king did not mention this during his speech.

On Sunday, King Salman made it clear he was unhappy with Mr Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, an opinion backed by the other leaders at the summit.

He also announced a $150m (£105m) donation for the maintenance of Islamic heritage in East Jerusalem, including the Al Aqsa mosque, and $50m (£35m) in funding for the UN agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud talks during the opening of 29th Arab Summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia April 15, 2018. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court
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King Salman, 82, rarely travels these days due to his ill health

The main focus of King Salman’s opening speech was Iran, which he criticised for “terrorist acts” and “blatant interference” in regional affairs, particularly the conflict in Yemen.

The two rivals are engaged in proxy wars in Yemen and Syria but also back opposing sides in Lebanon, Iraq and Bahrain.

There was little mention of Syria, whose president Bashar al Assad was not invited to the summit.

The Gulf states have donated large amounts of money to help refugees from the country but have not officially offered them asylum.

And, despite their condemnation of the suspected chemical attack earlier this month, the league members are unlikely to call for Assad to stand down.

The stand-off between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt is also not expected to feature.

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