Leaders in S. Arabia After King's Death

Leaders in S. Arabia After King's DeathLeaders in S. Arabia After King's Death

World leaders headed to Saudi Arabia Saturday to offer condolences following the death of King Abdullah, with US President Barack Obama cutting short a trip to India to pay respects.

Foreign aircrafts landed at a Riyadh military base where leaders from Africa, Europe and Asia descended a red-carpeted ramp to be welcomed by Saudi officials. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a rare visit to offer condolences, television pictures showed, AFP said in a report.

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. Abdullah died on Friday at the age of about 90 after being hospitalized for weeks with pneumonia.

World leaders have praised the king as a key mediator between Muslims and the West, but campaigners criticized his rights record and urged Salman to do more to protect freedom of speech and women's rights.

Persian Gulf leaders including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, attended Abdullah's traditionally simple funeral at Riyadh's Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque on Friday.  The body was quickly moved to nearby Al-Od public cemetery and buried in a grave marked by a book-sized plain grey stone.  Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived later to deliver condolences, along with Iraqi President Fuad Masum. Masum had met with Abdullah last November, helping to repair long-strained relations between the neighbors.

Mourning ceremonies were planned for Saturday and Sunday evenings at another palace, official media said.