Saudi king transfers National Guard duties to son

Saudi King Abdullah is beginning to lessen his duties due to health concerns.

Riyadh: The Saudi king has stepped down as head of the country`s National Guard and transferred the influential position to his son, in an apparent sign that the elderly monarch is beginning to lessen his duties.

The Saudi Press Agency yesterday reported that King Abdullah has named Prince Mitab bin Abdullah as commander of the National Guard. King Abdullah had headed the force since 1962.

The 86-year-old king also handed over his traditional supervisory duties for the annual hajj pilgrimage to his deputy prime minister because doctors advised him to rest after rupturing a disc in his back.

Abdullah appeared on Saudi television on Tuesday receiving well-wishers for the Eid al-Adha holiday.

Abdullah assumed the throne in August 2005.