10/22/2011, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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Saudi Crown Prince dies

Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz was 86. He died in the United States where he was undergoing treatment. He modernized the army and always supported the alliance with Washington. The new Crown Prince Nayef, 78 years old.
Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Crown prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz died this morning at dawn, giving way to Prince Nayef for succession to Saudi throne.

Prince Sultan, 86, was minister of defense for nearly 50 years. He was responsible for modernizing the Saudi armed forces, so as to make the country one of the biggest buyers of weapons in the world. Sultan was also one of the most tenacious supporters of the relationship between the kingdom and the United States. He died in the States, where he was since June undergoing treatment for colon cancer.

Sultan’s funeral will take place October 25th. Since 2009, because of his illness, the prince was often absent from the kingdom, rendering difficult the government's response to the growing tensions with Iran and with the different springs that are shaking the Arab Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, a hint of the Arab Spring - at the hands of the Shiite population - was immediately suppressed by the army.

Prince Nayef, who now becomes the crown prince, is 78 years old. The ruler Abdullah, 87, has been hospital in Riyadh for months for different treatments.

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