Riyadh: Saudi Arabia`s ageing ruler had
successful back surgery on Sunday at the King Abdel Aziz medical
compound in Riyadh, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
SPA quoted a Royal Palace statement as saying the
86-year-old King Abdullah`s surgery was to treat a loose
vertebra in his back and that the surgery was "completed with
success, thank God."
The king arrived at the hospital last night. A picture
distributed by SPA showed him using a walking stick, but
otherwise appearing healthy.
Abdullah had two back surgeries late last year in New
Abdullah became king in 2005, but had already ruled as de facto regent since King Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995.
The leader of the West`s foremost Gulf ally has given Saudi backing to US-led efforts to confront and constrain Islamist militant groups including al Qaeda and has pushed Washington to support greater rights for Palestinians.
Another US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks said the King had pushed the United States to take a harder line against Iran, which the West suspects of planning to build an atomic bomb. Tehran says its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes.
This year he disagreed with Washington over the Arab Spring protests in other Arab countries by supporting the ousted leaders of Egypt and Tunisia and sending troops to Bahrain to help its ruling family quash a Shi`ite uprising.
He has pushed cautious domestic reforms aimed at liberalising Saudi Arabia`s economy, giving greater technical, rather than religious, emphasis to education, and allowing women more rights.
Last month, he said women would have the right to participate in future municipal elections for the first time, but they can still not legally drive and need the permission of a male relative to travel outside the kingdom, work or have some kinds of surgery.
King Abdullah is seen to have supported a moderate oil policy, raising Saudi crude production to prevent price spikes during supply outages from other countries.