King Abdullah needs time off after undergoing a major operation in the US, senior member of the royal family says
Saudi Arabia's elderly HRH King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz is in "good spirits" but needs time off after undergoing a major operation in the US, a senior member of the royal family said on Wednesday.
Abdullah, around 87, arrived in Morocco on Saturday to recover following a two-month stay in the United States where he underwent surgery twice after a blood clot complicated a slipped disc, according to state media.
"I saw him in Casablanca. He walked out of the plane on his own two feet and was in good spirits," Prince Turki Al Faisal, brother of foreign minister Saud Al Faisal, told Reuters.
"But he realises that after a major operation he needs the time off for physical rehabilitation. I'm not sure when he'll be back in Saudi," he said.
Saudi state news agency SPA has published a picture of the monarch walking with a stick after arriving in Morocco. Abdullah was a wheelchair when he arrived in New York on November 22.
Diplomats say there has been uncertainty about Abdullah's health since he cancelled a visit to France in July.
The ruler of the world's biggest oil exporting country came to the throne in 2005 and is the sixth leader of the OPEC state, whose political stability is of global concern.
Saudi Arabia controls more than a fifth of the world's crude oil reserves and is a vital US ally as well as a major holder of dollar assets and home to the biggest Arab bourse.
Riyadh has been keen to show its allies there will be no power vacuum as health problems affect its octogenarian rulers.
A frail Crown Prince Sultan, himself away for unspecified treatment for much of the past two years, has returned to run the kingdom in Abdullah's absence.
With both Abdullah and Sultan in their 80s, speculation has arisen that Interior Minister Prince Nayef, 76 and a conservative, could take over in the future.