Saudi Arabia's King Salman and senior Saudi leaders met with Palestinian resistance group Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and other top leaders from the group on Friday, a Hamas source said, in the first meeting between the two sides in years.
King Salman, Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz and Saudi Defence Minister Mohamed bin Salman were present the rare meeting between the conservative Sunni US-allied kingdom and the political leader of Hamas, which is known to enjoy the support of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite regional rival Iran.
"The delegation discussed Palestinian unity and the political situation in the region. This meeting will hopefully develop relations between Hamas and Saudi Arabia," the source told Reuters.
Hamas has ruled Gaza for eight years since 2007 after fierce confrontations with its rival Palestinian party, Fatah.
Many of Hamas's senior leaders reside in Qatar. However, the small Gulf country is rumoured to be under pressure from fellow Gulf countries to limit its support for the Palestinian resistance group.
The Gaza Strip has suffered a great deal since the blockade imposed on the Palestinian lands by the state of Israel and neighbouring Egypt, which is suffering from an armed insurgency of militants loyal to ISIS, executing bloody operations targeting the army and police in particular.
Relations between Hamas and Saudi Arabia have improved since King Salman assumed the Saudi throne in January following the death of his predecessor King Abdullah, and had led the kingdom to take on a new assertive posture in the region.
Saudi Arabia has also been leading an Arab coalition in air strikes in neighbouring Yemen against Iranian backed Houthi rebels who seized the city of Aden in September.
Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi had called on Arab countries in general and particularly Saudi Arabia to help “save Yemen.”
Saudi-led operations in Yemen started late March, after which numerous UN brokered truces have consecutively collapsed.
Most recently, both sides failed to uphold the proposed truce for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. .
The Yemeni government, which is in self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia, has recently returned to their home country after announcing Aden as a liberated territory.