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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Saudi Crown Prince meets US Syria envoy

The pair discussed bilateral relations between the kingdom and the US

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Paris, France. AP
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Paris, France. AP

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Washington's Syria envoy in Riyadh on Monday.

The 33-year-old heir to the throne in the kingdom hosted US Special Representative for Syria Engagement, Ambassador James Jeffrey, in the Saudi capital, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The pair discussed bilateral relations between Riyadh and Washington and developments in the Middle East, particularly in Syria.

In attendance at the meeting was the kingdom's Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubeir and Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs Thamer bin Sabhan Al Sabhan.

Under the administration of US President Donald Trump, ties have warmed between Washington and the kingdom, finding common cause over trade, the Syrian civil war and the ongoing conflict in Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Both oppose the involvement of Iran and its proxy groups in the two countries. They view Tehran as attempting to create a Persian axis across the Middle East.

Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah is being backed by the Iranian regime and has a presence in Syria where it is supporting President Bashar Al Assad.

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Iran is also funding the Houthi rebels in Yemen where it overran the capital, Sanaa, and the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah in 2015. The Houthis, using Iranian missile technology and funding, has fired several rockets into Saudi territory.

It remained unclear if the envoy and Mr Salman discussed events surrounding missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for US newspaper The Washington Post and disappeared last week after attending the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Mr Trump said on Monday that he was "concerned" about the missing journalist. Saudi has denied all Turkish accusations that it had any involvement in his disappearance and has offered to open its doors to Turkish authorities.

Last week, Mr Salman said in an interview that he loves "working with him", referring to Mr Trump.