Obama hails late Saudi king's commitment to ties with US

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama expressed condolences on Thursday on the death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and saluted the late king's commitment to close US-Saudi ties.

"As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions," Obama said in a statement. "One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.

"The closeness and strength of the partnership between our two countries is part of King Abdullah's legacy," the statement added.

Abdullah died early on Friday and his brother Salman became king, the royal court in the world's top oil exporter and birthplace of Islam said in a statement carried by Saudi state television.

Obama said that as the two allies "worked together to confront many challenges, I always valued King Abdullah's perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship."