Saudi king to tour northern region next week: SPA

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FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, attends a banquet hosted by Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Tomohiro Ohsumi/Pool/File Photo

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will resume a domestic tour next week, the royal court said on Tuesday, as the country grapples with its worst political crisis in a generation over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The king, 82, will meet citizens and launch development projects in northern areas including Waad al-Shamal industrial city, according to a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

Last week, King Salman visited Qassim and Hail provinces, north of the capital Riyadh. He was accompanied for parts of that trip by his favorite son and heir apparent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The tours are the latest public outreach by the king, apparently intended to shore up the power of the crown prince, who has taken over day-to-day rule but whose international reputation was battered since Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest level of the Saudi government, although he did not believe King Salman himself was involved.

After initial denials, Saudi officials acknowledged the killing was planned in advance but said Prince Mohammed had no knowledge of the specific operation.

The 33-year-old crown prince is on course to become the first Saudi monarch from a new generation in 65 years, but his rise has upended the system of rule in place for decades in which successive kings sought family consensus and allocated powerful posts to their brothers and nephews.

Reporting By Stephen Kalin; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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