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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Saudi, Iranian Rulers Meet in Riyadh

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Following their first official talks in Saudi Arabia, the Iranian and Saudi leaders pledged to fight the spread of sectarian strife in the Middle East, which they said was the biggest danger facing the region.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Saudi King Abdullah also stressed the importance of maintaining Palestinian unity and bringing security to Iraq, the official Saudi Press Agency said Saturday.

The agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying he supported Saudi efforts to calm the situation in Lebanon and end its political crisis. Iran supports Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah group, which is trying to topple the U.S.- and Saudi-backed government.

The talks between the two leaders have been touted as a possible means to defuse sectarian tensions in Iraq and Lebanon and to prevent Iran from sliding further into isolation.

"The two leaders asserted that the greatest danger threatening the Muslim nation at the present time is the attempt to spread strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and that efforts should be exerted to stop such attempts and close ranks," the news agency reported.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have had chilly relations since the 2005 election of Ahmadinejad, whose refusal to suspend uranium enrichment has led to UN Security Council sanctions and made Iran's Arab neighbors increasingly wary of the country's nuclear program.

But Abdullah personally met Ahmadinejad at the airport before the two headed into a meeting. The king later threw a banquet in his guest's honor, the news agency reported. The Iranian leader left Riyadh late Saturday after the talks.