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Sun 28 Nov 2010 12:18 PM

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Saudi king shows improvement after operation - Agency

King Abdullah flew to New York last week for treatment for back problems

Saudi king shows improvement after operation - Agency
SAUDI RULER: Pictures by state media before Abdullahs departure and upon arrival in New York showed the king sitting in a wheel chair (Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia's
King Abdullah, who is being treated in New York after a blood clot
complicated a slipped desk, has been walking outside the hospital, his
half-brother told the state news agency on Saturday.

Abdullah, who is around 86 or
87, flew to New York last week for treatment for back problems. On
Wednesday, the royal court said the king had a successful operation.

"The Custodian of the Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz,
managed praise to God to walk outside the hospital," Abdullah's
half-brother and Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz told
state news agency SPA.

He did not say when the king would return home.

Pictures by state media before Abdullah's departure and upon arrival in New York showed the king sitting in a wheel chair.

During his absence, Abdullah has asked Crown Prince Sultan to run the
country. Sultan, thought to be in his mid-eighties, has had unspecified
health problems in the past two years.

Abdullah named last year Prince Nayef second deputy prime minister, a position that could help him become king.

Political stability in the monarchy is of global concern. The Gulf Arab
state controls more than a fifth of the world's crude reserves, is a
vital U.S. ally in the region, a major holder of dollar assets and home
to the biggest Arab bourse.