Riyadh/Washington: World leaders today paid glowing tributes to Saudi Arabia’s elderly King Abdullah, recalling the late monarch’s legacy and enduring contribution in promoting the path of peace in the Middle East shaken by the Arab Spring uprisings and extremism.
The 90-year-old Saudi monarch died today and was replaced by his brother Salman as the ruler of the world’s top oil exporter and the spiritual home of Islam.
Condoling the death of King Abdullah, US President Barack Obama hailed him as a “candid” leader who took bold steps in advancing the Arab Peace initiative.
“As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions…One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond,” Obama said.
“He took bold steps in advancing the Arab Peace Initiative, an endeavour that will outlive him as an enduring contribution to the search for peace in the region,” he said.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the king would be remembered for his “commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths”.
Paying tribute to the late monarch, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he has left a “tangible legacy” that can still show the path towards peace in the Middle East.
Ban paid tributes to King Abdullah’s efforts to address regional and international challenges at a time of turmoil and rapid change, and to promote dialogue among the world’s faiths.
“As the driving force behind the Arab Peace Initiative, King Abdullah left a tangible legacy that can still point the way toward peace in the Middle East,” a statement issued by Ban’s spokesman said
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hailed Abdullah as a wise leader who made historical contributions towards Arab solidarity and declared a seven-day mourning over his death.
“Egyptian people won’t forget the historical contributions of King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud towards Egypt,” said the President, condoling the death of the Saudi monarch.
King Abdullah was a major ally of the Egyptian government against Islamic extremism following the army’s ouster of president Mohammad Morsi in mid-2013.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain also expressed condolences over the demise of the Saudi King and announced a day of mourning.
Sharif, referring to the mosques in Mecca and Medina, said the custodian of the two Holy Mosques had a special place in the heart of every Pakistani.