Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has died at the age of 91, the nation’s state-run television station confirmed Thursday.
The king was in the hospital at the time of death.
News outlets suspected the king, who came to power in 2005, was dead when Saudi Arabian television stations began playing Quranic verses. He passed away at 1:00 a.m. local time, BBC reported.
Born in Riyadh in 1924, Abdullah was one of the dozens of sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, The Associated Press reported Friday. When Abdullah’s half-brother Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995, he became the kingdom’s ruler.
King Abdullah will be succeeded by his 79-year-old half-brother, Crown Prince Salman. The Saudi monarch had more than 30 children from around a dozen wives, The Associated Press reported Thursday.
President Obama expressed with “deep respect” and his personal condolences and “the sympathies of the American people” to Saudi Arabians over the death of King Abdullah on Thursday.
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“As our countries worked together to confront many challenges, I always valued King Abdullah’s perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions.”
He added, “One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond. The closeness and strength of the partnership between our two countries is part of King Abdullah’s legacy.”
“King Abdullah’s life spanned from before the birth of modern Saudi Arabia through its emergence as a critical force within the global economy and a leader among Arab and Islamic nations,” Mr. Obama said. “He took bold steps in advancing the Arab Peace Initiative, an endeavor that will outlive him as an enduring contribution to the search for peace in the region.”
The president said the king demonstrated a vision at home “dedicated to the education of his people and to greater engagement with the world.”
Mr. Obama’s statement concluded, “May God grant him peace.”
Former President George H.W. Bush released a statement on the Saudi king’s death on Thursday, saying “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend and partner King Abdullah. As President, I always found His Majesty to always be a wise and reliable ally, helping our relations build on a strategic relationship and enduring friendship dating back to World War II.”
Mr. Bush also said that he would “never forget” the support of Saudi Arabia during the war to reverse the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
“Barbara and the entire Bush family joins me in sending our most sincere condolences to all our friends in Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Bush’s statement added.