Obama offers condolences after death of King Abdullah

 

President Obama on Thursday offered his condolences to the people of Saudi Arabia after the death of King Abdullah, saying the "closeness and strength of the partnership between our two countries" was the legacy of the longtime ruler.

Obama praised Abdullah, 90, for a vision "dedicated to the education of his people and to greater engagement with the world."

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"As our countries worked together to confront many challenges, I always valued King Abdullah’s perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship," Obama said. "As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions."

Vice President Biden described Abdullah's death as "a great loss for his country" and said he would lead a presidential delegation to Saudi Arabia to pay respects.

The next Saudi king will be Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Saudi Arabia proved a key ally to the United States under Abdullah's reign, and the king was credited as a reformer who looked to invest the nation's oil revenues in infrastructure and education. 

He also proved a key ally in the fight against al Qaeda, helping to battle the terror network within his country. 

But critics argue Saudi social policy — especially toward women — has not progressed as much as in other nations. And Abdullah did disagree with U.S. leaders on a range of foreign policy issues, often advocating more aggressive action against Iran and Syria.