Assad flies to Saudi Arabia for talks with king

Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is battling an unprecedented challenge over his country's alleged involvement in the murder of a former Lebanese leader, made surprise journeys to Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Sunday for talks with Arab leaders. Arab diplomats said the talks focused on finding a face-saving way for Assad to deal with the most recent request to question him by the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Assad was met at Jiddah airport by King Abdullah. After their talks, he continued to Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in another unexpected visit, SANA said. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, who arrived in Damascus earlier in the day, met with Assad and Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa, saying he had traveled to Syria to prepare for Assad's Saudi visit. He refused to give any details.