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Saudi King Fahd Dies

King Fahd (l) in 1994 and Crown Prince Abdullah in 1997 1 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Saudi Arabia's ailing King Fahd has died.

The king's death was announced over the official Saudi media today.

Aged in his 80's, Fahd was admitted to a hospital in May, reportedly suffering from respiratory ailments. No cause of death was given today.

Saudi state television has interrupted normal programming to give recitations of the Koran.

King Fahd had ruled since 1982, but the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom were in the hands of his half-brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, since Fahd suffered a stroke in 1995.

Crown Prince Abdullah has been declared king. Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan has become crown prince.

An Arab summit due to be held on 3 August in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh was postponed. Arab League chief Amr Mussa said the postponement was for several days and that consultations were ongoing to set a new date.

In Paris, President Jacques Chirac expressed France's "deep emotion" and "profound sadness" at the death of King Fahd. Chirac said in a statement that King Fahd was the guarantor of his country's cohesion and the defender of regional stability.

Oil prices rose more than 50 cents a barrel to a near three-week high of $61.11 today after Saudi Arabia announced that King Fahd has died.

Saudi Arabia is the world's biggest oil exporter.

On oil markets, U.S. light, sweet crude rose by 54 cents to peak at $61.11 a barrel. That's about 35 cents higher than before news of King Fahd's death.