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Dec 31, 2014 5:27 AM

Saudi King Abdullah admitted to hospital for tests

The Associated Press

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) Saudi Arabia's 90-year-old King Abdullah was admitted to a hospital on Wednesday for medical tests, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The news agency, citing a royal statement, said the king was undergoing tests at the National Guard's King Abdulaziz Medical City hospital in the capital Riyadh. The statement did not provide further details.

Just last week, the king had left the capital city to spend time at the royal encampment in Rawdat Khuraim, a green oasis about 62 miles (100 kilometers) north of Riyadh.

It was at that resort where the aging monarch met President Barack Obama in March and appeared before the press wearing an oxygen tube. Official photographs of the king have also shown him in a wheelchair.

The health of the monarch is watched closely since any changes in leadership could have an impact on the stability of one of the world's largest oil producers. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with no elected parliament. The king has sole power to ratify legislation and appoint ministers.

The king reportedly underwent surgery in October 2011 and November 2012 for his back at the same National Guard hospital he was admitted to on Wednesday. He also had two back surgeries in 2010 in New York City.

His 79-year-old successor and half brother Crown Prince Salman has increasingly represented the kingdom in meetings abroad. As deputy prime minister and defense minister, Salman has also increasingly presided over Cabinet meetings at home.

Abdullah has outlived two other half brothers who held the crown prince post.

Under his guidance, a council comprised of the sons and some grandsons of modern Saudi Arabia's founder King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud was activated and in March selected Abdullah's half brother Prince Muqrin, 69, as second-in-line to the throne.

Abdullah officially assumed the throne in 2005, becoming the sixth king of Saudi Arabia, but had been widely viewed as the de facto ruler since the mid-1990s. As king, he holds the post of prime minister and commander of the National Guard.


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