Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud died Friday, weeks after he was admitted to the hospital, officials say.

Abdullah, who was suffering from a lung infection, was 90 years old. Hours later as mourners gathered in Mecca to pay their respects, his half brother, 79-year-old Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, was appointed as the new king.

From the BBC:

Within hours of his accession to the throne of the oil-rich kingdom, King Salman vowed to maintain the same policies as his predecessors.

“We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” he said in a speech broadcast on state television.

Abdullah had suffered frequent bouts of ill health in recent years, and King Salman had recently taken on the ailing monarch’s responsibilities.

World leaders offered their condolences to the late king, who is often dubbed one of the most progressive and liberal-minded reformers of the oil-rich nation, after royal officials announced his death.

“King Abdullah’s life spanned from before the birth of modern Saudi Arabia through its emergence as a critical force within the global economy and a leader among Arab and Islamic nations,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement.

“This is a sad day. The United States has lost a friend, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, and the world has lost a revered leader,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. “He was so proud of the Kingdom’s journey, a brave partner in fighting violent extremism who proved just as important as a proponent of peace.”

Services will be held Friday afternoon at the Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Grand Mosque in Riyadh.


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