Cheney meets with King Abdullah in Riyadh

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Vice President Cheney meets with King Abdullah
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U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney met with Saudi leader King Abdullah in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, today. The Vice President is seeking the Sunni royal family's influence and tribal connections to calm Iraq after an especially violent week.

A Saudi official said Cheney and Abdullah would discuss "the deteriorating situation in Iraq" as well as the situation in Lebanon, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the standoff with Iran. Cheney will also meet the Saudi Crown Prince Sultan, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The Middle East has another summit planned for today but in Tehran. Iran, the United States' top rival in the Middle East, had planned its own summit today, inviting the presidents of Iraq and Syria in what was seen as a bid to assert its role as a powerbroker in the Iraqi conflict. Syria never responded to the invitation and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was unable to go to Iran today because Baghdad's airport was ordered closed after the burst of violence, and he said he would be unable to visit Iran before Sunday at the earliest.

Still, today Lebanon is the biggest issue for all Middle East countries. Saudi Arabia has strong links to the anti-Syrian bloc that dominates Lebanon's government and the U.S. accuses Iran — along with its ally Syria — of trying to overthrow Lebanon's U.S.-backed government.

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