UPDATE 1-Crown prince has "reassured" Saudis about king's health

Reuters Middle East
Prince Salman named Saudi crown prince

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Saudi Crown Prince

Salman "reassured" Saudis during a cabinet meeting on Monday

about King Abdullah's health, more than a week after the monarch

had surgery to tighten a ligament in his back, state news agency

SPA reported.

The king, believed to be in his late 80s, was admitted for

surgery on Nov. 16 and an announcement from the Royal Court said

he had undergone a successful back operation that took 11 hours.

Saudi stability is of global concern. The key U.S. ally

holds more than a fifth of world petroleum reserves and is the

birthplace of Islam, where millions of Muslims flock to perform

the annual haj pilgrimage.

"His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz reassured

everybody about the health of King Abdullah," SPA said without

giving any details or saying when the king might be released

from hospital.

The Saudi stock market, which was on a downward trend

throughout the day, reversed course and the index closed

up 0.4 percent.

Top royals have repeatedly visited King Abdullah at the

Riyadh hospital since the operation, SPA said on Saturday, but

no photographs of the monarch have been released.

The crown has passed down a line of sons of the kingdom's

founder King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, who died in 1953.

Abdullah - who took power in 2005- named his brother Prince

Salman, 13 years his junior, heir apparent in June after the

death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz. Salman deputises for

the king while he is away and has chaired both this week and

last week's cabinet meetings.

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