Syria's al-Assad arrives for talks with Saudi monarch
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday arrived in Riyadh for talks with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz, the satellite news channel al-Arabiya reported.
The talks, the latest sign of the thaw in relations between the two countries, are likely to cover the civil war in Yemen and regional and international efforts to restart peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, DPA reported.
Both countries have spoken of the need to reconcile Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, which controls Palestinian-administered areas of the West Bank, and help form a Palestinian "national unity" government.
Without such an agreement, it is unclear who could credibly negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians in future peace talks.
Damascus hosts exiled political leaders from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Saudi Arabia, while maintaining cordial relations with Hamas' political leadership, is broadly seen as more sympathetic to Fatah.
Riyadh is also likely to seek Syrian support for its campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels along the ill-defined Saudi-Yemeni border, which has claimed at least 73 Saudi lives and an unknown number of Houthi and civilian casualties.
The Saudis have accused Syria's neighbour and close ally, Iran, of supporting the Houthis.
Wednesday's scheduled summit follows Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal's visit to Damascus last week.
That visit was the latest sign of improved relations between the two countries.
Saudi-Syrian relations were strained by Saudi Arabia's support for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, and deteriorated further following the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, who had close financial and political ties to Saudi Arabia.
Detlev Mehlis, the German judge commissioned by the United Nations to investigate the bombing, implicated "senior Lebanese and Syrian officials" in that killing.
But relations between the Saudis and Syria have thawed in recent months, particularly following King Abdullah's landmark visit to Damascus in October.