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Obama: Prince Nayef 'dedicated himself to security of Saudi Arabia'

US President Barack Obama said Crown Prince Nayef, who had been next in line to rule Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, had for decades "dedicated himself to the security of Saudi Arabia as well as security throughout the region."

Under his leadership, the United States and Saudi Arabia developed a strong and effective partnership in the fight against terrorism, one that has saved countless American and Saudi lives. On behalf of the American people, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to King Abdullah, the royal family, and the people of Saudi Arabia.

– Obama said in a statement issued while on a visit to his home town Chicago

Seen as a key ally for the West, Saudi Arabia has provided critical intelligence to foil al Qaeda plots, bankrolled pro-Western Arab governments and has supported Washington's attempts to isolate Iran.

Saudi Crown Prince Nayef, heir to throne, dies

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. Credit: Reuters

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, next in line to rule the world's top oil exporter, has died just eight months after becoming heir to 89-year-old King Abdullah, the royal court said.

Analysts and former diplomats said the succession process was likely to be stable, however, with the king and a family council expected to start work on the appointment of a new crown prince, who would probably be another brother of King Abdullah.

"With deep sorrow and grief... King Abdullah mourns his brother... Crown Prince Nayef who passed to the mercy of God on Saturday outside the kingdom," said a royal court statement carried by state media.