World leaders descend on Riyadh
A long list of high-profile world leaders arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Saturday to pay their last respects to King Abdullah, who breathed his last on Friday.
US President Barack Obama telephoned Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Saturday to convey his condolences and congratulated him on ascending the throne. King Salman thanked the president for his noble gesture. Obama has cut short his India visit in order to travel to Riyadh and pay respects to King Abdullah, a White House statement confirmed.
A number of heads of state and government, especially from the GCC, including Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif and Egyptian Premier Ibrahim Mahlab, attended the funeral on Friday. However, most world leaders started arriving on Saturday. Many others will reach here Sunday.
World leaders who arrived on Saturday were Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi, Prince of Wales Prince Charles, British Premier David Cameron, Spanish King Felipe VI, Dutch King Willem-Alexander, French President Francois Hollande, Crown Prince of Denmark Frederik Andre Henrik, Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, Mauritanian President Mohammed Ould Abdulaziz, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Yang Jiechi, Prince Moulay bin Rashid, brother of the Moroccan king, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Crown Prince of Norway Haakon Magnus, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Vice President of Nigeria Namadi Sambo and former Turkish President Abdullah Gul.
Hollande was received at the Riyadh airbase by Riyadh Gov. Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.
The ceremony to pay the last respects was held at the Royal Court in Al-Yamamah Palace.
The Indian delegation, led by Vice President Hamid Ansari, included journalist M.J. Akbar. They were received by Riyadh Gov. Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Anatolyevich Medvedev and Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh also arrived in Riyadh.
Ahrul Tsani Fathurrahman, spokesman of the Indonesian Embassy, confirmed that a high-level delegation from their country led by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, accompanied by Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, arrived in Riyadh to pay their respects.
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba and Senegal’s President Macky Sall were received by a number of senior government officials.
The other foreign dignitaries — Bangladesh’s President Mohamed Abdu Hamid and Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmoud Ali — arrived from Davos after attending the World Economic Forum.
New Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena signed the condolence book at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Colombo on Friday.