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Saudi Crown Prince Returns Home after Medical Tests

Saudi Crown Prince Returns Home after Medical Tests

Crown Prince Nayef has returned to Saudi Arabia, a month after travelling to the United States for medical tests, the state news agency said early on Wednesday.

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April 11, 2012 10:16 by



Crown Prince Nayef has returned to Saudi Arabia, a month after travelling to the United States for medical tests, the state news agency said early on Wednesday.

Prince Nayef, who is about 78, went to Cleveland in March for “scheduled medical tests”, Saudi state television said at the time.

Because the Saudi system of government centralises a great deal of power at the very top, the health, views and prospects of senior princes are closely scrutinised.

King Abdullah, who is about 89, was in January shown on state television meeting visiting world leaders and talking with them in apparently good health, but in October he had his third round of back surgery in 12 months.

Prince Nayef left the Cleveland clinic after a few days and has spent much of the intervening time inAlgeria, where he has been recuperating.

The veteran interior minister has long been seen as the next king of Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich country that was founded by King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud in 1934 and has since been ruled by five of his sons, including Abdullah.

He was formally appointed crown prince in October after the death of his older full brother, Sultan bin Abdulaziz.

Although Nayef has a reputation as a conservative who is averse to the cautious social changes pushed by his elder half-brother Abdullah, diplomats and analysts say it has never been certain how he would act as king.

On Monday, al-Watan newspaper reported that Nayef had ordered the release of “non-dangerous” prisoners and those whose sentences were almost complete.

The presumed next in line after Nayef is Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, who was made defence minister in November after serving as Riyadh governor for five decades.

The conservative Islamic kingdom emerged from last year’s Arab uprisings as one of the most stable Middle Eastern states but analysts have expressed concern about how it will manage future successions of power within the royal family.

(Reporting By Angus McDowall; editing by Andrew Roche)



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