Riyadh: Saudi Crown Prince and Defence
Minister Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, whose health and long absences
have sparked concerns in recent years, is in "very good
health," his son said on Wednesday.
"My father is in very good health and he is on his
annual vacation," assistant defence minister Prince Khaled bin
Sultan told reporters.
Prince Sultan, minister of defence and aviation since
1962 and crown prince since 2005, has been absent from the
country for much of the past two years as he struggled with
what is believed by diplomats and analysts to be cancer.
Sultan, who is also first deputy prime minister, left
the country in November 2008 to undergo surgery in the United
States and then to convalesce in Morocco, only returning in
He left the country again for Agadir, Morocco at the
end of August and has been shown in public since then only a
Half-brother of King Abdullah, Sultan`s official age
is 79 but some experts on the royal family put it at 84-85.
Last year interior minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul
Aziz, Sultan`s full brother, was promoted to second deputy
prime minister in a move seen as covering the potential
vacancy in the successor position should Sultan die.
Sultan`s son Prince Khaled, who has been effective
operational head of the ministry of defence during his
father`s absence, was speaking at a ceremony to announce the
winners of the fourth annual Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz
International Prize for Water.