RIYADH | king Salman of saudi Arabia, 84 years old, was hospitalized Monday for an inflammation of the gallbladder, which has resulted in a postponement of the scheduled visit of the iraqi prime minister Mustafa al-Kazimi, authorities said.
The kingdom communicates rarely on the state of health of the monarch aging, which runs from 2015 to the country, the largest exporter of crude oil in the world and the largest arab economy.
“The king has been admitted to the specialist hospital King Faisal in Riyadh for check-ups due to an inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis)”, has announced his cabinet, quoted by the official news agency SPA, without providing further details.
The iraqi prime minister was scheduled to visit on Monday in saudi Arabia, before a visit in Iran, two allies of Baghdad, between which there is rivalry in the region.
“The visit (of the iraqi prime minister) has been postponed until the release of the king of the hospital”, said on Twitter, the saudi minister of foreign Affairs Fayçal ben Farhane.
Saudi Arabia “enjoys the choice of the iraqi prime minister to visit the kingdom for his first visit since his assumption of office in may, he insisted.
Moustafa al-Kazimi has confirmed the postponement of the visit because of an “urgent medical problem” of king Salman.
In a statement, his office said that a fresh date will be fixed “quickly”, while Mr Kazimi was possibly on a mission to mediate between rival powers in the Gulf.
He has received Sunday in Baghdad, the iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and was supposed to go, after Riyadh on Monday, in Tehran on Tuesday evening.
Under the reign of king Salman, saudi Arabia has initiated economic reforms for the post-oil, but has also adopted a more assertive foreign policy and entered the war against rebels in yemen, supported by Iran.
In 2017, saudi Arabia has denied information spread in media according to which the king planned to abdicate in favour of his son, the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, regarded as the de facto ruler of the kingdom.
The meteoric rise of prince Mohammed at the head of the country has coincided with a severe repression of activists and dissenting voices, even within the royal family.
Saudi Arabia has been facing a series of controversies since he was named crown prince in June 2017, particularly after the assassination, in October 2018, the journalist saudi Jamal Khashoggi.
This contributor to the Washington Post, near the court before becoming a critic, was killed by saudi agents at the consulate of the kingdom in Istanbul, Turkey.