World dignitaries mourn Sultan
By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN | ARAB NEWS
Published: Oct 27, 2011 01:34 Updated: Oct 27, 2011 02:11
RIYADH: Hundreds of grief-stricken royal family members, world leaders and diplomats including Britain’s Prince Charles, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Henrik of Denmark, with more than 60 ambassadors stationed in Riyadh offered their condolences Wednesday to the Saudi royal family over the death of Prince Sultan.
“A large number of them signed the book of condolences opened by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Alaudeen A. Alaskary, deputy minister for protocol affairs.
Many other prominent foreign dignitaries who presented their condolences included Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Spanish Crown Prince Felipe de Borbon, Kuwaiti Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, President of Austrian Federal Council (Senate) Susanne Neuwirth and Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chief of Libyan Transitional National Council.
Alaskary, who received the foreign envoys on behalf of Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, said that many envoys and foreign dignitaries signed the condolence book and met with Prince Saud to convey their sadness. Some of the royals and high-ranking officials offered their condolences and met with Prince Naif, second deputy premier and minister of interior, Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman, and Prince Khaled bin Sultan, assistant minister of defense and aviation.
The French defense minister met Prince Khaled in a separate meeting. Prince Khaled, on this occasion, expressed thanks for the visit of French minister and reaffirmed “the strong relations between the Kingdom and France.” Alaskary said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Yamamah Palace had been receiving local and foreign officials in large numbers since the first day (Tuesday) of the three-day mourning announced by the Kingdom.
Speaking on this occasion, Spanish Ambassador Pablo Bravo said Spanish Crown Prince Felipe was received at the Royal Court by Prince Salman and Prince Khaled.
Felipe, who presented his condolences, wrapped up his visit to Riyadh on Wednesday evening. A spokesman of the Japanese Embassy confirmed Crown Prince Naruhito met with Prince Salman and Prince Khaled at Yamamah Palace on Wednesday night.
Among other important leaders and officials who offered their condolences included Australian Minister of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr, Ukraine Minister of Defense Mykhailo Yezhel, Gabon’s Premier Paul Biyoghe Mba, former Lebanese Premier Fouad Siniora and the Italian deputy foreign minister. At Riyadh Air Base, these officials were received by Prince Sattam, deputy governor of Riyadh and a number of Saudi officials.
Meanwhile, King Abdullah received a telephone call from King Juan Carlos of Spain in which he offered his condolences to the king.
A large number of dignitaries arrived late Tuesday. They included former Prime Minister of South Korea Sung Soo-han and Minister of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina Selmo Cikotic.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met Prince Naif on Tuesday to offer his condolences. Prince Salman and Prince Khaled were also present during their meeting. Pakistan’s PML-Q Chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and chief of the army staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani accompanied Zardari.
The condolences will be officially accepted until Oct. 27 (Thursday). The governors of different regions will also be receiving citizens and officials during this period.