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Mahmoud Abbas to visit Saudi Arabia for impromptu meeting with Saudi king and crown prince

The snap visit was planned only 24 hours prior to being announced. [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 November, 2017

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Saudi Arabia on Monday in an impromptu trip at a time when Riyadh finds itself in the midst of unprecedented political upheaval.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Saudi Arabia on Monday for an impromptu trip at a time when Riyadh finds itself in the midst of unprecedented political upheaval.

Palestine's ambassador to Saudi Arabia Bassam al-Agha told Voice of Palestine radio that Abbas will meet Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following a weekend of upheaval.

Abbas will discuss bilateral relations with the Saudi King and Crown Prince and brief them on the latest developments in Palestine, al-Agha added.

The snap visit was planned only 24-hours prior to being announced and Abbas will travel to Riyadh after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Sharm el-Sheikh.

It is unclear whether Saudi Arabia or the Palestinian Authority initiated the visit.

The meetings will likely discuss a secret four-day trip made by senior US adviser Jared Kushner and Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt last week.

The trip was the latest step in the efforts of US officials to continue discussions with regional partners on the Middle East peace process.

Overnight Saturday, Saudi Arabia detained dozens of princes, businessmen, senior military officials and prominent figures as part of a major arrest sweep.

Riyadh claims the arrests are part of an anti-corruption probe although many analysts view the purge as a power grab by the crown prince.

The dramatic shake-up comes at a time of social and economic transformation in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman steps up his reform drive for a post-oil era.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a protege of Riyadh, on Saturday announced his surprise resignation in a broadcast from the Saudi capital.

He cited the "grip" of the Iran-backed Shia movement Hizballah on Lebanon, and said he feared for his life.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran have escalated after a missile was fired by Tehran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, reaching the capital Riyadh.

The ballistic rocket was reportedly knocked out of the skies by Saudi air defences close to Riyadh International Airport.

Riyadh blamed the first-of-its-kind attack on Iran and described it as "an act of war".

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