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Saudi king treated for lung infection: statement

Published May 19,2024

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has a lung infection and is undergoing a treatment programme involving antibiotics, the Royal Court said Sunday in the latest update on the ageing monarch's health.

Earlier in the day, the court said King Salman was suffering from "high temperature" and joint pain, and would undergo medical tests at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah.

It was the second time in less than a month that the Saudi government had commented publicly about the 88-year-old king's health.

The tests on Sunday "found that there was a lung infection", and doctors decided on "a treatment programme consisting of antibiotics until the inflammation went away", according to the latest royal statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

King Salman has been on the throne since 2015, though his son, Mohammed bin Salman, 38, was named crown prince in 2017 and acts as day-to-day ruler.

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter, has for years sought to quell speculation over King Salman's health.

The monarch's health is rarely discussed, but the Royal Court disclosed in April that he had been admitted to King Faisal Specialist Hospital for "routine examinations". He left the hospital later that day.

Prior to that, his most recent hospitalisation had been in May 2022, when he went in for a colonoscopy and stayed for just over a week for other tests and "some time to rest", SPA reported at the time.

In 2017, Riyadh dismissed reports and mounting speculation that the king was planning to abdicate in favour of Prince Mohammed.

King Salman underwent surgery to remove his gall bladder in 2020.

He was also admitted to hospital in March 2022 to undergo what state media described as "successful medical tests" and to change the battery of his pacemaker.

King Salman had served as Riyadh governor for decades and also as defence minister.

His reign as king has been marked by ambitious social and economic reforms largely managed by his son, who is trying to position Saudi Arabia for an eventual post-oil future.

Prince Mohammed has also overseen an intense crackdown on dissent that analysts say has helped him consolidate power.