Obama Saudi King Abdullah
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 3, 2009. Photo by AP
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The United States congratulated King Abdullah and the Saudi people on the selection of Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz as Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, a week after the former Crown Prince, Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud died while abroad.
Sultan, who was thought to be aged about 86, had been in the United States for medical treatment since June.

"Crown Prince Nayif has served his nation with dedication and distinction for more than 35 years as Minister of Interior, and as Second Deputy Prime Minister since 2009. We in the United States know and respect him for his strong commitment to combating terrorism and supporting regional peace and security," the White House said in a statement.

The statement continued, saying that the United States looks forward to continuing a close partnership with the new Crown Prince and deepening U.S.-Saudi ties.

King Abdullah is in his late 80s and underwent back surgery earlier this month but has been pictured since then in apparently good health.

The king was absent for three months late in 2010 while he underwent treatment for a herniated disc that caused blood to accumulate around his spine.

Prince Nayef, who is in his late 70s, has a reputation as being more conservative than either the former crown prince or king.

Unlike in European monarchies, the line of succession does not move directly from father to eldest son, but has moved down a line of brothers born to the kingdom's founder Ibn Saud, who died in 1953.