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    Syria and Saudi Arabia hail 'new era' in relations - 07 Oct 09

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    Al Jazeera English

    by Al Jazeera English

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    Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has arrived in Syria for talks with Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, aimed at healing a rift that has aggravated Arab discord over Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Lebanon.

    Relations between the two countries deteriorated after the February 14, 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the kingdom's strongest ally in Lebanon.

    'New era'

    This week's visit will be the first by a Saudi king to Syria since the assassination and many in Lebanon hope a full reconciliation between Damascus and Riyadh will have positive effects in Beirut.

    Kamel Wazne, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera: "This is a breakthrough in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Syria.

    "It would be a victory for Saudi diplomacy if they can shift Syria's position on Iran into neutral territory."

    King Abdullah's trip is being hailed as a new era for relations between Damascus and its regional neighbours.

    Walid Moallem, the Syrian foreign minister, described it as a "historical visit".