Algeria's President Cancels on Saudi Crown Prince - Due to Acute Flu

The Saudi heir, Mohammed bin Salman, had arrived late on Sunday for a two-day visit to Algeria. He wished Abdelaziz Bouteflika a speedy recovery

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the plenary session at the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 1, 2018.
\ HANDOUT/ REUTERS

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been unable to receive the Saudi crown prince during his visit as planned due to acute flu, the Algerian presidency said on Monday.

The Saudi heir, Mohammed bin Salman, had arrived late on Sunday for a two-day visit to Algeria. He wished Bouteflika a speedy recovery, the presidency said in statement carried by the official APS news agency.

The cancellation of the meeting is likely to fuel speculation over whether Bouteflika will run for a fifth next in presidential elections next year.

Bouteflika, in office since 1999, has rarely appeared in public since suffering a stroke in 2013 which has bound him to a wheelchair. His last meeting with a senior foreign official was during a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sept. 17.

The ruling party and trade unions have urged him to run but intellectuals and the opposition have said his health makes him unfit for another term.

The Saudi heir met Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who had also received him at the airport.

Prince Mohammed was visiting Algeria as part of a tour of Arab countries he has resumed after attending the G20 summit in Argentina on the weekend.

The crown prince is on his first trip abroad since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which has strained SaudiArabia's ties with the West and battered the prince's image abroad.

Saudi Arabia has said the prince had no prior knowledge of the murder. After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh said last month that Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.