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Saudi King Heads to US for Medical Tests


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — The palace says Saudi Arabia's 86-year-old King Abdullah has left for the United States for medical tests over a blood clot.

In a statement, the palace says that before flying to the U.S. on Monday, Abdullah gave temporary authority to "administer the nation's affairs" to Crown Prince Sultan, his half-brother and heir to the throne.

Saudi authorities have been unusually open about the monarch's condition, apparently in a bid to dispell speculation. Late Sunday, Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabeeah went on state TV saying Abdullah suffered a slipped disc and that a blood clot was pressing nerves in his back, causing him pain.

Abdullah rose to the throne of this key U.S. ally and oil power in 2005 after the death of King Fahd.

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