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Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed at the GCC summit in Makkah. Image Credit: AFP/Saudi Royal Palace

Jeddah: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, arrived in Jeddah Thursday, leading the UAE delegation to the two emergency summits of GCC and Arab leaders in Makkah.

The Gulf and Arab League emergency summits kicked off on Thursday, while the OIC summit will be held on Friday.

“Holding the Gulf, Arab and Islamic summits in Makkah in such a critical period, during which the region is witnessing daunting challenges, re-affirms the leading role played by Saudi Arabia,” Shaikh Mohammad said.

"The kingdom represents a strategic depth for countries of both the region and the Islamic world, and plays a significant role in establishing peace and security, preserving the interests of the region’s peoples and closing Arab and Islamic ranks."

The kingdom called for the meetings as it seeks a united Gulf and Arab stance on regional issues, especially on the Palestinian conflict and tensions emanating from Iranian behaviour in the region.

These include drone terror strikes on oil installations in Saudi Arabia carried out by the pro-Iran Al Houthi militia in Yemen, and attacks on four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, off the UAE coast earlier this month.

US officials have blamed Iran for that attack.

On Wednesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Ebrahim Al Assaf told a gathering of his counterparts in Jeddah ahead of the summits that the attacks must be addressed with “strength and firmness”.

He also said the “Palestinian issue is a paramount issue for Saudi Arabia, in particular the Palestinian people’s full legitimate rights and the establishment of an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital”.

Earlier Thursday, the US said it will respond with military force if its interests are attacked by Iran. US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said US actions taken so far in the Gulf region, which include repositioning military assets, have had the “desired deterrent effect on the (Iranian) regime’s risk calculations”.