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Saudi Arabia seeks new political bloc in strategic Red Sea region

Riyadh - Saudi Arabia is seeking an alliance with six countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a strategic area vital to global shipping and increasingly an arena of contention with regional rivals like Iran, Turkey and Qata

Riyadh - Saudi Arabia is seeking an alliance with six countries bordering the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a strategic area vital to global shipping and increasingly an arena of contention with regional rivals like Iran, Turkey and Qatar. Representatives from Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Jordan gathered in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss the initiative without reaching final agreement.

A team of experts is expected to meet “soon” in Cairo for technical talks. Eritrea, with Red Sea islands and a mainland coastline of 1,150-kilometres (715 miles), was not present. Nor was Ethiopia, which has no access to the sea but the largest population in the Horn of Africa.

“This is part of the kingdom’s efforts to protect its interests and those of its neighbors and ... to stabilize the region that we live in and to try to create synergies between the various countries...” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters after a day of closed-door meetings.

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