World leaders head to Saudi
World leaders headed to Saudi Arabia yesterday to offer condolences following the death of King Abdullah, with US President Barack Obama cutting short a trip to India to pay respects.
Obama will travel to Riyadh on Tuesday to meet new King Salman, the White House said.
Since Abdullah took the throne in 2005, Saudi Arabia has been a prime Arab ally of Washington, and last year joined the coalition carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State jihadist group.
One after another, foreign aircraft landed at a Riyadh military base where leaders from Africa, Europe and Asia descended a red-carpeted ramp to be welcomed by Saudi officials and served a traditional tiny cup of Arabic coffee.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a rare visit to the regional rival to offer condolences, television pictures showed.
Others who came included French President Francois Hollande, Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani, Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, and Spain's King Felipe VI.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince Charles were expected too.
Away from the airport, shops were open and life continued with almost no indication that a new era had began, except for billboards expressing condolences for Abdullah's death.
Abdullah died on Friday at the age of about 90 after being hospitalised with pneumonia.
He was a cautious reformer who led the Gulf state through a turbulent decade in a region shaken by the Arab Spring uprisings and Islamic extremism.