CAIRO - Saudi Arabia has stayed away for a second time from a meeting of Egypt, Turkey and Iran to discuss the Syria crisis, the Egyptian foreign minister said on Wednesday, hampering Cairo's initiative to find a regional solution to the conflict.

Saudi Arabia attended a preparatory session in Cairo on Sept. 10 of officials from the four states but Riyadh has missed two ministerial meetings since. It has not announced any reason but Riyadh and Tehran have long tussled for regional influence.

Ever since Egypt announced plans for the initiative in August, diplomats have questioned the ability of a group that includes both Syria's ally Iran and three opponents of President Bashar Assad to reach any substantive agreement.

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