Arab, international welcome over appointment of Prince Naif as crown prince

U.S. President congratulates Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

Governors, princes pledge allegiance to Prince Naif, receive allegiance by Saudi citizens

GCC health ministers council congratulate Crown Prince Naif

US President Barack Obama on Friday congratulated Saudi King Abdullah on the selection of Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz as his heir, noting the new crown prince's counterterrorism record.

"I congratulate King Abdullah and the Saudi people on the selection of Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz as crown prince. We in the United States know and respect him for his strong commitment to combating terrorism and supporting regional peace and security," Obama said in a statement.

"The United States looks forward to continuing our close partnership with Crown Prince Naif in his new capacity as we strengthen the deep and longstanding friendship between the United States and Saudi Arabia."

Naif, 78, served as interior minister and led a fierce crackdown on Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, and is believed to oppose reforms that could liberalize the country's ultra-conservative Islamic society.

He is also known for his suspicion and mistrust of Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran, and has pushed for hard-line policies towards the Shiite nation.

Naif was named as crown prince on Thursday and succeeds Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, who died last week in New York and was buried Tuesday in Riyadh.

The key diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and the United States have appeared on stronger footing in recent months following tensions provoked by US support for Arab Spring revolutions.

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said in September that the relationship was now in "very good shape" due to shared strategic interests.

Washington and Riyadh have also worked together in recent weeks following the exposure of what Washington says was a plot by elements of Iran's government to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the Secretary General of the National Security Council, extended congratulations to Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on being selected as Crown Prince and appointed as Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency, Prince Bandar prayed to God that he may help and guide the Crown Prince to serve the Kingdom, under the prudent leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Chief of Intelligence for Intelligence Affairs, has extended congratulations to Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz on being chosen as the Crown Prince and his appointment as the Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior.

In a statement, Prince Abdulaziz bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz highlighted the trust enjoyed by Prince Naif and wished him well.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Special Advisor to Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh Region, congratulated Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, on his selection as the Crown Prince and appointment as the Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud realized the great abilities of Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz to be a worthy successor to the best predecessor.

He added, 'Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz, who is a person of obvious potentials in his abilities and firmness, in the face of difficulties, managed very shrewdly to face many crises and handle serious files, in the forefront of them was terrorism.'

The Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, received at the Governance Palace in Riyadh princes, the Kingdom's General Mufti, Ulema, sheikhs, ministers and a group of citizens who came to greet him and pledge allegiance to him for being selected as Crown Prince as per instructions of the holy Quran and the Prophet's Sunnah (sayings and deeds) in such case and congratulate him on being appointed as Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior.

Upon arrival, the Crown Prince was received by Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh Region, and Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Governor of Riyadh Region.

The Crown Prince was accompanied by Prince Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Assistant Interior Minister for Public Affairs; Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Assistant Interior Minister for Security Affairs; Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz; Prince Nawaf bin Naif bin Abdulaziz; Prince Mohammed bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, and Prince Fahd bin Naif bin Abdulaziz.

Then, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh, Kingdom's Grand Mufti and Chairman of the Administration of Religious Research, Ifta and Chairman of the Board of Senior Ulema delivered a speech on the occasion, in which he urged all eligible citizens to pledge allegiance to Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud after being selected as the new Crown Prince and appointed Deputy Premier by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in this regard.

Crown Prince Naif then shook hands with the well-wishers who pledged allegiance to him and wished him all success to carry on with his new responsibilities.

In turn, the Crown Prince thanked all well-wishers for their sincere feelings.

In a speech to mark the occasion, Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz said that meeting the Grand Mufti, a group of scholars and dignitaries in this day has greatly impressed him.

He considered that as a conduct to translate genuine cohesion among Saudis. 'I feel the burden of the confidence bestowed on me by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques of being selected as Crown Prince', he said. In addition to thanking the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for selecting me and having trust in me, I consider that as a responsibility as well as an honor, the Crown Prince added.

Nonetheless, I directed my face towards Allah, all heartily, to ask Him to help me and guide me, he said. What I have seen from my brothers the sons of King Abdulaziz and his posterity, all members of the royal family, the Grand Mufti and senior scholars the citizens, is my pleasure but, then, I feel the great responsibility towards all these people, this motherland, men and women, which I have to shoulder in line with the directives of our leader and guardian, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and to carry on with this trust in sincerity, allegiance and loyalty, he said. In these moments, I cannot forget Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the unequalled man who accorded a lot to his motherland, since his youth when he started as the Governor of Riyadh region until he finished his life-career as the Crown Prince, he added.

Being Muslims and believers, we accept whatsoever doomed by Allah, he added. Whatsoever attributed to Sultan are lessons we drew and convinced with, and God will, we will take them as a method along with the method of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, as the latter is an extension of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which ends ultimately at King Abdulaziz.

I have been with Sultan, I worked under his reign as an undersecretary of Riyadh Governorate when he was its Governor, hence, Prince Sultan and me have served this motherland under the leadership of the Founding King Abdulaziz, the Mastermind, then under the consecutive leaderships of late Kings Saud, Faisal, Khalid and Fahd, respectively, may Allah rest their souls in peace, and finally under the wise leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who taught us and proved to us how to serve the motherland, and how to sacrifice everything to serve the nation. We closely lived that in tight circumstances and we concluded that the King is bothered by nothing and has no concern but the safety of the people and security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz concluded.

The Director General of Executive Office of the Council of Health Ministers of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Dr. Tawfiq bin Ahmed Khoja, has expressed his congratulations to Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, on his selection as Crown Prince, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior.

Dr. Khoja said that the Prince's selection for these posts has come in recognition of his continued and distinguished contributions and achievements including his supervision of many humanitarian and relief committees and campaigns, as well as his leading roles in combating terrorism.