Saudi Arabia buries Crown Prince Sultan
Riyadh, October 25, 2011
The funeral of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Sultan on Tuesday set the stage for King Abdullah to name a new heir, widely expected to be veteran Interior Minister Prince Nayef.
Sultan's sons and brothers carried his corpse, swathed in a brown shroud, on a bier through a throng of mourners in Riyadh's sprawling Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque for funeral prayers before burial.
The body of Sultan, who died of colon cancer in New York on Saturday, was flown back to Riyadh on Monday, accompanied by his younger brother and Riyadh Governor Prince Salman, who may now play a more prominent role in the conservative Islamic kingdom.
Among the mourners who went forward to greet King Abdullah after the prayer recital was Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Earlier this month Iran was accused of backing a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
The Royal Court said it would be open to accept condolences for three days from Tuesday. A US delegation headed by Vice President Joe Biden is expected in Riyadh on Thursday.
King Abdullah was chief mourner at the mosque, where Saudis in red-and-white headdresses were crammed between dozens of pillars behind the kneeling Grand Mufti as he led prayers.
The octogenarian Saudi monarch, who left hospital on Saturday night after a back operation last week, remained seated for the prayers and wore a surgical mask over his face.
Guests at the funeral service, including the president of Afghanistan, the Syrian vice-president and the head of Egypt's ruling military council, paid condolences to King Abdullah as they filed out of the prayer hall. - Reuters