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Saudi Arabia's King Salman admitted to hospital in Riyadh

King undergoing medical checks after suffering from inflammation of the gall bladder, state media reports
The king, who has ruled the world's largest oil exporter and close US ally since 2015, is undergoing medical checks (AFP)

Saudi Arabia's 84-year-old ruler, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, has been admitted to hospital in the capital Riyadh, suffering from inflammation of the gall bladder, the royal court said on Monday.

The king was "admitted today to King Faisal specialist hospital in Riyadh for some medical tests due to cholecystitis," the royal court said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The court gave no further details regarding the king, who has ruled the world's largest oil exporter and close US ally since 2015.

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Following the news, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi postponed a visit scheduled to Saudi Arabia, said Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

"In recognition of the extremely important visit and a desire to make it a success, our wise leadership in coordination with our brothers in Iraq have decided to postpone the visit," Faisal wrote on Twitter.

King Salman, the custodian of Islam's holiest sites, spent more than two and a half years as the Saudi crown prince and deputy premier from June 2012 before becoming king. 

He had also served as governor of the Riyadh region for several decades.

The de facto ruler and next in line to the throne is the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, widely referred to as MBS.

The crown prince's economic and social reforms have been accompanied by a purge of top royals and businessmen on charges of corruption, and a costly war in Yemen.

The CIA has concluded that the crown prince was behind the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018.

Bin Salman has denied any knowledge of the killing of the Middle East Eye and Washington Post columnist.

King Salman took the throne after the death of his half-brother Abdullah, who was 90.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia denied media reports that the king was planning to abdicate in favour of his son.

The hospital treating King Salman has been the subject of controversy in recent months.

Medical sources in the hospital told Middle East Eye in March that the hospital had been closed to all but emergency cases after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus.

As many as 12 people inside the hospital had tested positive for the virus, but the exact number was not known because testing was limited, a medical source inside the hospital told MEE.

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