By Arab News
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah yesterday received a telephone call from US President Barack Obama, who conveyed his condolences on the death of Prince Naif.
The two leaders also discussed major regional and international issues.
Obama also sent a high-level US delegation led by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to the Kingdom to offer condolences. The delegation included James Smith, US ambassador to Saudi Arabia; John Brennan, top White House official for homeland security; and FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Prince Naif, 78, who was the Kingdom’s crown prince, deputy premier and minister of interior, died Saturday in Geneva. His body was buried in Makkah after funeral prayers at the Grand Mosque.
In a statement, Panetta paid tribute to Prince Naif for working “tirelessly for the protection of the Kingdom and the Saudi people” over nearly four decades as interior minister.
“His visionary leadership and courage were instrumental to the gains we have made together against terrorism and extremism, and helped save Saudi and American lives,” Panetta said.
“Prince Naif played a pivotal role in strengthening the relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Panetta said he would “express the condolences of the American people on this loss, reaffirm my commitment to our strong security partnership, and express my hope that this partnership will endure as a lasting tribute” to the late prince.
A number of foreign delegates arrived in Jeddah yesterday to convey their condolences to King Abdullah and other royal family members.
They included French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Prince Philippe of Belgium, Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito, Deputy Italian Foreign Minister Staffan de Mastura, Dutch State Minister and former Prime Minister Wim Kok.
Foreign diplomats accredited to the Kingdom also arrived in Jeddah to offer condolences. Foreign delegations participating in a UN conference in Brazil met with Saudi delegates to convey their condolences.
Tabuk Gov. Prince Fahd bin Sultan received a large number of mourners in the region. Speaking on the occasion, he highlighted the important position Prince Naif had in the hearts of Saudis.
“Every house in the Kingdom knows what Prince Naif contributed to reinforce the Kingdom’s security and stability. He launched a war on those who tried to undermine the country’s security,” he said.
Prince Fahd congratulated the newly appointed Crown Prince Salman and Interior Minister Prince Ahmed. “Prince Salman is a statesman and man of wisdom. We all know the new crown prince. He has established strong international relations.”
Interior Minister Prince Ahmed congratulated Prince Salman on his appointment as crown prince, deputy premier and minister of defense. “Myself and all staff of the Interior Ministry pledge our allegiance to the new crown prince and wish him success.” He thanked King Abdullah for appointing him as interior minister.
Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry described Prince Salman as “an outstanding international figure and one of the strong pillars of the Kingdom.”
He is well known for his wisdom and administrative capabilities as well as humanitarian services, he added.
Abdullah Al-Saihati, a prominent businessman in the Eastern Province and chairman of Saihati Group, congratulated Prince Salman and Prince Ahmed on their new appointment as crown prince and interior minister respectively. “We pledge our allegiance to the new crown prince and hope he would take the Kingdom to greater heights under the strong leadership of King Abdullah,” Al-Saihati told Arab News.
Huda Al-Ameel, president of Princess Nourah University, congratulated Prince Salman on his appointment. “His appointment comes as a continuation of the country’s development process. It reflects King Abdullah’s desire to take the country to greater heights,” she said. Al-Ameel commended Prince Salman’s support for education and research.
Saudi Ambassador to UK Prince Muhammad bin Nawaf received citizens and foreign delegates who came to convey condolences.
They included former Kuwaiti Speaker Sheikh Jassim Al-Khurafi, former Kuwaiti Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Muhammad Al-Sabah and Arab ambassadors accredited to the UK.