RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi King Salman held a cabinet meeting via video call from hospital in the capital Riyadh on Tuesday, a day after the 84-year-old monarch was admitted with what state media said was inflammation of the gall bladder.
Three Saudi sources had previously told Reuters that the king was in stable condition.
A video of the king chairing the meeting was broadcast on Saudi state TV on Tuesday evening. In the video, which has no sound, King Salman can be seen behind a desk, wordlessly reading and leafing through documents.
The king, who has ruled the world’s largest oil exporter and close U.S. ally since 2015, was undergoing medical checks, state media on Monday cited a Royal Court statement as saying without further details.
Three well-connnected Saudi sources who declined to be identified, two of whom were speaking late on Monday and one on Tuesday, told Reuters the king was “fine”.
An official in the region, who requested anonymity, said he spoke to one of King Salman’s sons on Monday who seemed “calm” and that there was no sense of panic about the monarch’s health.
King Salman received phone calls from the leaders of Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan on Monday, state media reported.
A diplomatic source said the kingdom’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman flew back to Riyadh on Monday from his palace in the Red Sea city of NEOM, cancelling a planned meeting with a visiting Iraqi delegation.
The diplomatic source and the third Saudi source said the crown prince was still in the capital.
King Salman last spoke publicly on March 19 in a five-minute televised address about the coronavirus pandemic. State media have published pictures and videos of the king chairing online weekly cabinet meetings. Media have also carried images of the crown prince attending those meetings online.
King Salman, the custodian of Islam’s holiest sites, spent more than 2-1/2 years as the Saudi crown prince and was deputy prime minister from June 2012 before becoming king. He also served as governor of the Riyadh region for more than 50 years.
He named his young son Mohammed as crown prince to become next in line to the throne after a 2017 palace coup that ousted then-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.
(Reporting by Marwa Rashad, Raya Jalabi and Aziz El Yaakoubi; additional reporting by Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by William Maclean and Marguerita Choy)