Dhahran (Agencies): Saudi Arabia's King Salman has slammed Iran 's “blatant interference” in regional affairs.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman opened the 29th annual Arab League summit on Sunday.  "We renew our strong condemnation of Iran 's terrorist acts in the Arab region and reject its blatant interference in the affairs of Arab countries," the king said in his opening speech.

The king also criticised the US decision to transfer its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and described “terrorism” as the biggest challenge facing Arab countries.

Seventeen leaders from across the Arab world — minus Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — gathered in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran for the summit, which this year comes as world powers face off over Syria and tensions rise between Riyadh and Tehran.

The meeting opened only 24 hours after a barrage of strikes launched by the United States, Britain and France hit targets they said were linked to chemical weapons development in Syria, which was suspended from the league seven years ago.

But King Salman avoided any mention of Syria in his address, as a seat marked “Syrian Arab Republic” sat empty in the hall.

Instead, the king focused on rivalries with long-time foe Iran — only 160 kilometres (100 miles) across the Gulf from Dharan.

“We renew our strong condemnation of Iran 's terrorist acts in the Arab region and reject its blatant interference in the affairs of Arab countries,” the king said.