World leaders pay homage to Crown Prince Sultan
RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah together with a large number of Saudi royals, heads of state and high-ranking local and foreign officials bade farewell to the late Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, here Tuesday.
King Abdullah performed funeral prayers with the mourners at the jammed Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in the capital and then the body of the crown prince was buried at the sprawling Al-Oud Cemetery in keeping with Islamic tradition.
Several heads of state and high-ranking officials from around the world joined King Abdullah and Prince Naif, second deputy premier and minister of interior, and other members of the royal family in the funeral prayers.
“Thousands of security officials were also deployed in the capital to regulate traffic, to ensure security and to manage crowds at the funeral procession,” said an informed source here.
The body of the late crown prince was wrapped in his own brown cloak.
Prince Naif described Prince Sultan as a loving brother and a great leader.
“He was a refuge for us at times of difficulties,” he told Saudi Television.
He said Sultan had extended every support to King Abdullah and accepted his views as the best.
“I have felt King Abdullah’s love toward Prince Sultan,” Prince Naif said.
“We had wished that the king should not go to the airport and take part in the funeral considering his health but when we realized the place Sultan occupied in his heart we supported the idea,” he said.
Prince Turki bin Sultan, deputy minister of culture and information for media affairs, lamented the loss in a statement released on this occasion. “This day will be unforgettable in the history of the Kingdom, when King Abdullah and the people of Saudi Arabia lost a great visionary leader and reformer,” he said.
He said the late Crown Prince Sultan had great achievements to his credit and his contributions in Arab, Islamic and international affairs will always be remembered.
He also said the late crown prince always extended a helping hand to needy people and supported charitable and social activities.
“The late Crown Prince had been helping charity organizations across the globe,” said the deputy minister.
After the funeral prayers, several Muslim leaders called on King Abdullah inside the mosque and offered their condolences.
More than 100 foreign dignitaries from 27 countries besides Saudi and expatriate mourners packed the mosque to offer prayers.
Arab and Muslim leaders as well high-ranking officials mingled with one another and exchanged condolences. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, Comoros President Ikililou Dhoinine and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi arrived in Riyadh and offered their condolences Tuesday.
US Embassy spokesman Mofid H. Deak said US Vice President Joe Biden would arrive with a high-ranking delegation in Riyadh on Thursday to meet with King Abdullah and offer his condolences.
On Tuesday, the first leaders to arrive for the funeral were Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Chairman of Egyptian Military Council Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Djibouti’s President Ismael Omar Guelleh, Senegalese President Abdullah Wade and Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai.
Sudanese President Omar Bashir, Yemeni Vice President Lt Gen. Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi, Syrian Vice President Farouk Al-Sharie, Lebanese Premier Najib Mikati, Malaysian Premier Mohammed Najib Razak, Mauritanian Premier Mawlai Ould Mohammed Al-Qathif and Eritrean Foreign Minister Othman Saleh also attended.
Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Jordan’s King Abdallah and UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum also attended the funeral.
A three-member delegation, led by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, attended the funeral.
Prince Rashid bin Al-Hassan, brother of the King of Morocco, was also present at the funeral ceremony, while Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah represented Brunei.
Several world leaders and dignitaries will arrive in Riyadh on Wednesday and Thursday.
New Zealand Governor General Jerry Mateparae, Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay and Brazil’s special envoy to the Middle East Cesario Melantonio arrived later on Tuesday to offer condolences.
Crown Prince of Spain Felipe de Borbon and Japan’s Prince Naruhito are due to visit Riyadh within the next few days to offer condolences.
Crown Prince Sultan’s body was brought to Azizia Palace from Riyadh Military Hospital early Tuesday.
A group of princesses and women offered funeral prayers at the mosque of the palace before the final prayers were offered at Imam Turki Mosque.
Satellite TV stations across the world showed live coverage of the funeral.
Qatari Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani arrived in Riyadh later in the evening to convey his condolences to King Abdullah, Prince Naif and other royal family members.
In another development, King Abdullah called for holding rain-seeking prayers all over the Kingdom on Oct. 31, a royal court statement said Tuesday.