JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia Nov 27 Saudi Crown Prince
Salman said on Tuesday that King Abdullah was "well and in good
health", more than 10 days after the monarch underwent back
surgery, a message likely to reassure many states keen on the
stability of the world's biggest oil exporter.
No photographs have been released of the monarch, believed
to be in his late 80s, since the 11-hour operation on Nov. 17 at
the National Guard's King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh.
"Brothers, I convey to you greetings of ... King Abdullah
and I convey to you good news that he is well and in good
health," Prince Salman, who is also the defence minister, told
counterparts from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council at a
meeting in Riyadh, in comments aired on Saudi state television.
Saudi stability is of global concern. The pivotal U.S. ally
in the Gulf holds more than a fifth of world petroleum reserves
and is the birthplace of Islam, where millions of Muslims flock
to perform the annual haj pilgrimage.
Top Saudi royals have repeatedly visited King Abdullah in
hospital since the royal court announced the surgery to tighten
a ligament in his upper back on Nov. 18 a success, according to
Saudi analysts said it was understandable that recovery
would take time, given the king's advanced age.
On Monday, Prince Salman "reassured" Saudis about the king's
health at a cabinet meeting, the state news agency SPA reported,
but he gave no details on his condition or when he will be
released from hospital.
The Saudi stock market index reversed a downward
trend after the announcement on Monday, ending the day in
positive territory. But on Tuesday, the index fell to a 10-month
low to close 1.3 lower.
King Abdullah underwent a similar operation in October last
year and had back surgery twice in the United States in 2010 for
a herniated disc, after which he spent three months outside
Saudi Arabia recuperating.
Two days after his back operation last year, Abdullah
appeared on state television and was released from hospital
within five days.
The crown has passed down a line of sons of the kingdom's
founder King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, who died in 1953.
King Abdullah - who took power in 2005 - named his brother
Prince Salman, 13 years his junior, heir apparent in June after
the death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz.
Salman, who deputises for the king, was shown on television
last week meeting visiting U.S. officials. He had chaired two
cabinet two weekly cabinet meetings since the surgery.