Saudi King Abdullah.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Saudi Arabia's aged ruler will fly to the United States for medical tests over a blood clot, according to a Saudi official, in a development that would renew questions about succession in the oil-rich kingdom.
The 86-year-old King Abdullah is set to leave on Monday, three days after he was admitted to the hospital suffering from back pain due to a blood clot, the official said late Saturday. The official didn't say which hospital would receive the king.
On Friday, the palace said that the king had a blood clot, which had created pressure on the nerves surrounding a ruptured disc.
Crown Prince Sultan, 85, will arrive in Riyadh on Sunday to oversee the kingdom, the official added.
Prince Sultan, the defense minister, has spent over a year in the US and
Morocco for medical treatment of his own. He underwent surgery in New
York in February last year before going to his palace in Agadir,
Morocco, to recuperate.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Earlier this week, King Abdullah stepped down as head of the country's
National Guard and transferred the influential position to his son.
He also handed over his traditional supervisory duties for the annual
hajj pilgrimage to his deputy prime minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz,
the king's half brother and powerful interior minister.