Leaders travel to Saudi Arabia to pay respects to king

A day after King Abdullah's funeral, delegations from Iran, UK, France, Afghanistan, Spain and Indonesia head to Riyadh.

    The king, who presided over Saudi Arabia for about two decades, died early on Friday [Getty]
    The king, who presided over Saudi Arabia for about two decades, died early on Friday [Getty]

    Leaders from around the world have travelled to Saudi Arabia to meet new King Salman bin Abdulaziz and offer their condolences following the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

    One after another, foreign aircraft landed on Saturday at a Riyadh military base where leaders from Africa, Europe and Asia were welcomed by Saudi officials.

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    Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, made a rare visit to the regional rival, followed by French President Francois Hollande, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Spain's King Felipe VI and Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

    British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince Charles also arrived later on Saturday.

    Mourning ceremonies were planned for Saturday and Sunday evenings, official media said. 

    US President Barack Obama is expected to travel to Riyadh on Tuesday. He paid tribute to the late King Abdullah as a "valued" ally while the State Department indicated co-operation between the two countries would continue.

    The king, who presided over Saudi Arabia for about two decades, died early on Friday and was buried that same afternoon in the capital Riyadh.

    In keeping with Islamic tradition, only Muslims were at the king's funeral on Friday.

    Gulf rulers and leaders including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, attended funeral prayers at Riyadh's Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque.

    The body was quickly moved to the nearby Al-Od public cemetery and buried in a grave marked only by a book-sized plain grey stone.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived later on Friday to deliver condolences, as did Iraqi President Fuad Masum.

    King Salman, 79, pledged to keep the conservative, oil-rich Muslim kingdom on a steady course and moved to cement his hold on power, quickly naming a successor.

    He vowed to "remain, with God's strength, attached to the straight path that this state has walked since its establishment". 

    He also called for "unity and solidarity" among Muslims.

    SOURCE: AFP


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