Saudis move to dispel crown prince health rumours

Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud is in Morocco recovering after medical treatment.
Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet was reassured Monday about the condition of its crown prince, according to state-run media, amid mounting speculation about his health.

The country’s second deputy prime minister, Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, spoke to ministers about the condition of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud while leading a Cabinet session in Jeddah, according to the Saudi Press Agency. The crown prince has been convalescing at his residence in the Moroccan city of Agadir, where he arrived in May, after undergoing surgery and treatment in New York for an undisclosed illness. Speculation has mounted since he arrived in New York in February. The crown prince’s age has never been officially announced but most estimates put him in his 80s. Earlier this week, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, stopped in Agadir to visit the prince and check on his health. The Saudi Press Agency issued a statement during the king’s trip, saying he was “reassured about the health of his brother the crown prince.”

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Though Saudi officials have maintained publicly that Sultan’s health has improved, the appointment in late March of a second deputy prime minister raised more questions. In April, King Abdullah named the interior minister, Prince Nayef — the powerful brother of the crown prince and half-brother to the king — to the post of second deputy prime minister. While many Saudis took the appointment to mean that Nayef is now the country’s crown prince in waiting and second in line to be king, others interpreted it as a simple administrative move, ensuring leadership at home if Abdullah and Sultan are abroad at the same time.