New Saudi heir may be Salman as Nayef buried

New Saudi heir may be Salman as Nayef buried

New Saudi heir may be Salman as Nayef buried

Late Saudi Prince Nayef (R) and his brother Salman are seen in this file photo. AP photo

Saudi Arabia was scheduled to bury Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz amid worldwide condolences, as defense minister Prince Salman appeared poised to become the new heir apparent.

An aircraft bearing the body of Prince Nayef left Geneva early yesterday for the kingdom’s western city of Jeddah. The funeral of the country’s interior minister was expected to take place later in the Muslim holy city of Mecca after sunset.

Bozdağ attends funeral

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ was set to attend the funeral. Turkish President Abdullah Gül made a phone call to King Abdallah and offered condolences, Anatolia news agency reported. “Crown Prince Nayef devoted his life to promoting the security of Saudi Arabia,” said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, while U.S. President Barack Obama praised his cooperation in the fight against terror that “saved countless American and Saudi lives.” French President François Hollande said his country had lost a “friend.” The 79-year-old prince died of “cardiac problems” while at his brother’s residence in Geneva, a medical source in the city who asked not to be identified said.

King Abdullah himself is 88 and ailing, and nobody is officially in line to replace Nayef. However, his brother Prince Salman, 76, who took the defense portfolio after Sultan’s death, appears to be a strong candidate, according to Agence France-Presse. Salman was named defense minister last year.