Saudi king announces $150 million for East Jerusalem

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, arrived in Saudi Arabia yesterday, ahead of leading the country's delegation to the 29th Arab League Summit.

"The Arab League summit harshly condemns the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against the Syrian people", the statement said as quoted by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir during the summit in the city of Dhahran that focused on the situation in Syria after the Western strike.

"The Palestinian case is our priority and will remain so until all the Palestinians gain their rights", he said, stressing that East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.

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

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.

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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 United Nations agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees.

A source from the Arab League told Asharq Al-Awsat that the kings, presidents and leaders of 17 countries will attend the summit.

"Saudi Arabia is going to push for a much harsher stance on Iran - not necessarily on the nuclear dossier per se, but on Iranian influence in the Arab countries, particularly Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen", said Karim Bitar of the Paris-based Institute of global and Strategic Affairs.

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

Qatar will not be represented by a senior official at an Arab summit taking place in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, in a sign that a almost year-old dispute between Gulf Arab neighbours is still a long way from being resolved.

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