World / Middle East

Saudi's new ruler to stick to old policies

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-01-24 12:27

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia's new ruler promised on Friday to keep up with the policies made by his predecessors as he assumed the throne of the kingdom after the death of King Abdullah on Friday.

The new king, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, made the remarks in a nationally televised speech as the oil-rich kingdom began to mourn King Abdullah, who rule the country for nearly two decades.

"We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,'' Salman said.

In the speech, Salman also mentioned the chaotic situation in the Middle East due to the violent expansion of the Islamic State (IS) militant.

He said the Arab and the Islamic world are in "dire need of solidarity and cohesion".

Also in the speech, King Salman offered his condolences to Saudis and Arab and Islamic nations, hailing the contributions of the late monarch to the region and the international community as well.

King Salman also moved fast on naming the second-in-line to the throne and some key government positions on Friday.

He named his nephew, Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, as Deputy Crown Prince, appointing a grandson of the kingdom's founding monarch into the line of succession for the first time.

He also appointed his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman as Defense Minister and named Crown Prince Muqrin as first Deputy prime minister.

The Saudi kings have been the sons of the kingdom's founding monarch, King Abdulaziz, also known as Ibn Saud, since he died in 1953.

King Abdullah died in the early hours of Friday believed at the age of 90. He became Saudi Arabia's king in 2005.

Ruling a conservative state, King Abdullah was seen as a moderate reformer and often came up against the more hard-line clerics.

Since ascending to the throne, King Abdullah took some steps toward broader freedoms and invested some of the country's vast oil wealth in large-scale education and infrastructure projects.

He helped to solve disputes between his country, UAE and Bahrain on one side and Qatar on another side by mediating summit of GCC leaders in Riyadh in November. The meeting was successful and led to the returning of diplomatic relations between those countries.

The late king also managed to defuse tensions between Egypt and Qatar, a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, the power base of the ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Under his rule, Saudi Arabia was among the first countries to join a US-led coalition to combat the IS militant group in Iraq and Syria.

The Saudi Royal court announced on Jan 2 that King Abdullah was put on ventilator for respiratory problems.

His successor King Salman was appointed governor of Riyadh at the age of 20, and minister of defense in 2011.

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