Saudi king in Morocco for rest after US surgery

RIYADH, Acil Tabbara- Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, the octogenarian ruler of the world's largest oil exporter, flew in to Morocco on Saturday to convalesce after undergoing back surgery in the United States.
"King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud arrived in Casablanca in the kingdom of Morocco from New York to complete physical therapy and his recovery," said the report.

Saudi king in Morocco for rest after US surgery
Morocco's King Mohammed VI met King Abdullah at Casablanca airport, SPA and an official Moroccan source added.
The Saudi king flew to New York on November 22 and was operated on two days later for a debilitating herniated disc complicated by a haematoma that put pressure on his spine.
That surgery was declared a success, as was a second operation to repair several vertebrae.
Saudi Interior Minister Nayef bin Abdul Aziz said later on Saturday that King Abdullah was in good health and he hoped to see the monarch return home soon.
"On this blessed day, I am pleased with the arrival of King Abdullah in Morocco and I thank King Mohammed VI and his people for the warm welcome they accorded him," Prince Nayef said in a speech to a business forum.
King Abdullah himself said earlier this week that he was in good health and he had been following developments in the oil-rich kingdom.
"I want to assure all that I am in good health and will return soon, very soon, to the kingdom to be among my family and people," the monarch was quoted as saying by Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah.
On December 22, Saudi television showed Abdullah walking with difficulty and smiling at hospital staff as he left the facility for a period of convalescence and physiotherapy at his New York residence.
The monarch's advanced age combined with his back hernia raised concerns about the future of Saudi Arabia, which has been ruled by the Al-Saud family since 1932.
The crown prince, Abdullah's half-brother Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who has been defence minister since 1962, is also in his mid-80s and has been slowed by what is believed to be cancer.
Little seen for the past two years, Sultan returned from Morocco -- a favourite holiday location for Saudi royals who own private palaces -- on November 21 to assume control of the royal government in Abdullah's absence.
Prince Nayef, 77, is the king's half-brother and is third in line to the throne. He was appointed second deputy prime minister in March 2009.
In his speech to the business gathering, the minister gave assurances the "stability of the kingdom and the recent economic reforms" had generated "an influx of foreign investment."
Saudi Arabia is a close ally of the United States, and Washington has pressed Riyadh to crack down on Islamic militants and help counter the threat it says is posed by Iran.
US President Barack Obama called the monarch on December 26 to hail his recovery "progress," the White House said.
After months of talks, the United States announced last September that it plans to offer Saudi Arabia 60 billion dollars worth of hi-tech fighter jets and helicopters, in the largest US arms deal ever.
King Abdullah is credited with advancing much-needed reforms in the ultra-conservative Islamic state since he became king in 2005.
Any hint at possible change in the absolute monarchy, founded in 1932, is keenly watched as the OPEC kingpin pumps about 8.2 million barrels of crude per day.
Saudi royals who have dominated the government for 30 years or more are all aged and have been treated for various health problems, usually never defined, over the past year.

Sunday, January 23rd 2011
Acil Tabbara

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