Saudi Crown Prince Abruptly Cancels Japan Trip As 'Health Concerns' Surround King Salman

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, May 20, 2024 - 08:40 PM

On the very same week that a head of a major Middle East nation perished in a helicopter crash, there's developing news that King Salman of Saudi Arabia is suffering a life-threatening illness.

The 88-year-old monarch has already long been in fragile condition, and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) has been de facto ruler of the kingdom for many years in his stead. 

But the country's foreign ministry confirmed on Monday MbS has unexpectedly canceled a trip to Japan in order to be with his father. "On the late night of 19 May, the Government of Saudi Arabia informed the Government of Japan that [MbS]’s visit needed to be postponed due to the health condition of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud," an official statement said. 

Salman is in the hospital and is being treated for lung inflammation. MbS' now canceled visit to Japan was scheduled from May 20 to the 23rd. According to more via Reuters:

Earlier on Sunday, King Salman underwent medical tests at the royal clinics at Al Salam Palace due to "high temperature and joint pain", the Saudi state news agency said.

The report further noted "His illness struck just as the crown prince met with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in the kingdom for talks on a strategic agreement between Washington and Riyadh."

Sullivan has been in the region to try and advance the so-called "deal of the century". Part of the deal would be for Israel to recognize a future 'two state solution' - but at the moment it seems a tall ask given the Israeli military has yet to back off its controversial Raffah ground offensive.

The region is reeling this week from the crash of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter on Sunday, killing him, the country's foreign minister, and several officials.

Currently all eyes are on Iran as the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader is emphasizing a message of continuity of government and stability. 

As for Saudi-Japan relations, one regional source notes, "Tokyo and Riyadh have been growing closer in recent years. Kishida visited the Kingdom in July last year and announced the launch of green energy project initiatives, including hydrogen and ammonia. He also urged MbS to increase investments in semiconductors and batteries."