Obama congratulates new Saudi crown prince
President Obama congratulated King Abdullah and the people of Saudi Arabia on Friday on the selection of Prince Nayif ibn Abdulaziz as the heir to the Saudi throne, and expressed his intent to continue America's partnership with Nayif as the two countries strengthen their "deep and long-standing friendship."
"Crown Prince Nayif has served his nation with dedication and distinction for more than 35 years as minister of interior, and as second deputy prime minister since 2009," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House. "We in the United States know and respect him for his strong commitment to combating terrorism and supporting regional peace and security."
Nayif is known for being tough on Islamic militants but less inclined to greater openness in a kingdom rigidly controlled by the royal family. He was named as the heir to the 87-year-old king after the death of Crown Prince Sultan ibn Abdulaziz, who died last week in the U.S.
Abdullah is recovering from his third operation for back problems in less than a year, the Associated Press reported. This week he attended Sultan's funeral wearing a surgical mask, the news agency said.
-- Ann M. Simmons in Los Angeles
Photo: Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayif ibn Abdulaziz, seen here attending the opening of the Arab interior ministers meeting in Tunis, Tunisia, in March 2010, has been designated the Gulf kingdom's new crown prince. Credit: Zoubir Souissi / Reuters