Obama makes phone call to king Salman to offer condolences

U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama board Air Force One prior to departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, on Jan. 24, 2015. (AFP)

U.S. President Barack Obama, in a phone call to new Saudi King Salman on Saturday, offered his condolences on the death of King Abdullah.

Hours earlier, the White House said Obama will cut short a visit to India to travel to Saudi Arabia, instead of Vice President Joe Biden, who had been scheduled to fly in from Washington, the White House said on Saturday.

Obama was scheduled to go to India's famed Taj Mahal with First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday, at the end of a three-day visit to the country.

King Abdullah died on Friday after a short illness and has been succeeded by King Salman.

Obama is due to hold summit talks in India on Sunday, attend Monday's military parade and give a speech on Tuesday morning before his early departure, Indian sources had told Reuters news agency before the White House announced the president’s visit to Saudi Arabia.

Obama on Friday expressed his personal condolences and the sympathies of the American people on the death of King Abdullah. The president hailed the late king as a “candid” and courageous leader.

[With AFP and Reuters]
 

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