Saudi king appears for first time since November 17 surgery

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 28, 2012 9:25 AM

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi King Abdullah has appeared on state television on Wednesday for the first time since his 11-hour back operation on November 17, helping assuage fears over his health.

In footage broadcast on state television, the monarch, who is in his late 80s, looked in good health as he sat in a chair receiving members of the royal family and officials in Riyadh. The surgery was conducted at the National Guard's hospital in the capital Riyadh.

Because power in the world's top oil-exporting country is concentrated in the hands of the king and top princes, their health is closely watched.

King Abdullah has introduced cautious economic and social reforms in the conservative Islamic kingdom aimed at reconciling Saudi Arabia's religious traditions with the needs of a modern economy and youthful population.

Abdullah's heir is Crown Prince Salman, who is 76.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)