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Saudi expulsions leave broken dreams in Africa and Asia

By Angus McDowall , Praveen Menon and Aaron Maasho RIYADH/DUBAI/ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - More than a million people from across the world - managers, maids, accountants and laborers - have left Saudi Arabia since March, after years or even decades working in the Gulf Arab state, which sustains its own citizens with oil revenues. Around 120,000 Ethiopians have been deported in the past month alone as part of a visa crackdown aimed at pushing more Saudis into employment to ensure future political and economic stability.

Saudi religious leader condemns suicide attacks

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti, the highest religious authority in the birthplace of Islam, has condemned suicide bombings as grave crimes, reiterating his stance in unusually strong language. The Saudi cleric, whose views influence many Sunni Muslims respectful of the kingdom's strict version of Islam, denounced suicide attacks after al Qaeda's 2001 assault on U.S. cities, but his latest comments recast the message in sharp terms.

Saudi spy chief in new meeting with Putin on Syria

Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief has held a new meeting in Russia with President Vladimir Putin on the Syrian conflict, the second closed-door encounter this year between the Russian leader and the key regional powerbroker. The Kremlin said in a statement late Tuesday that Prince Bandar bin Sultan discussed with Putin at the president's suburban Moscow residence the situation in the Middle East and preparations for a Syria peace conference planned in January.

Analysis: Saudis have few options as they push tougher foreign policy

By Angus McDowall RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia seems to have few viable options for pursuing a more independent and forthright foreign policy, despite its deep unease about the West's tentative rapprochement with Iran. Upset with the United States, senior Saudis have hinted at a range of possibilities, from building strategic relations with other world powers to pushing a tougher line against Iranian allies in the Arab world and, if world powers fail to foil Tehran's nuclear ambitions, even seeking its own atomic bomb.

Obama calls Saudi king over Iran: White House

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday called King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia to discuss the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, as the kingdom had shown unhappiness over Washington's policies toward Egypt, Syria and Iran. In the phone talks, Obama shared the details of the first-step agreement reached on Sunday in Geneva between Iran and the P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, the White House said.

Immigrant crackdown in Saudi Arabia leaves garbage in streets, migrant workers hiding in fear

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Garbage is piling up on streets around the mosque housing the burial site of the Prophet Muhammad. Grocery stores have shut their doors and almost half of Saudi Arabia's small construction firms have stopped working on projects.

Saudi rejects U.N. Security Council seat, opening way for Jordan

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia officially notified the United Nations on Tuesday of its decision to reject a seat on the U.N. Security Council, which U.N. diplomats said clears the way for the likely election of Jordan as a replacement.

Jordan looks set to take Saudi Security Council seat: Western diplomats

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Jordan appears set to take the traditional Arab seat on the U.N. Security Council after Saudi Arabia rejected the position in protest at the body's failure to end the Syria war and act on other Middle East issues, Western diplomats said on Friday. The 193-member U.N. General Assembly elected Saudi Arabia last month to the Security Council for a two-year term from January 1, but in a surprise move, Riyadh declined the position a day after the vote.

Saudis bemoan soaring labour costs after migrant exodus

Saudis have begun complaining of surging labour costs following the exodus of a million foreign workers, although economists insist there will be long-term planning benefits from fully regulating the market. Professionals in the kingdom, both Saudi and expatriate, say the freelance tradesmen who used to queue for odd jobs in public squares have virtually disappeared since police patrols began the strict enforcement of tough labour laws this week, rounding up thousands of illegals for deportation.

Saudi minister demands Iran leave Syria

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Monday demanded that Iran leave Syria, saying Tehran was helping President Bashar al-Assad strike his own people. Speaking at a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Riyadh, Prince Saud said proposed talks to end Syria's civil war could not happen without the participation of an opposition coalition leading the struggle to oust Assad. (Reporting by Mahmoud Habboush and William Maclean, writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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