King Fahd was laid to rest in an unmarked desert grave Tuesday after his body, wrapped in a simple brown robe, was borne from a prayer service by his sons. Vice President Dick Cheney and other world leaders headed to Saudi Arabia to pay condolences and honor Crown Prince Abdullah's ascension to the throne as the sixth king of the wealthy oil power.
As gun-toting anti-terrorist forces surveyed the scene, Saudis lined up after the burial to pay respects to the 81-year-old new monarch, a day before tribal leaders, clerics and officials swear loyalty to King Abdullah in a traditional Islamic investiture ceremony.
The scene in the mosque was one both of reverence and of chaos,
Western leaders — including Cheney, Britain's Prince Charles and France's Jacques Chirac — were expected to meet with Abdullah separately Wednesday to congratulate him and express their condolences for Fahd's death.
The White House said Former President George H.W. Bush and Former Secretary of State Colin Powell would also represent the U.S. delegation.
In an interview with CBS News, Mideast expert Jonathan S. Paris predicts that
Abdullah, the de facto ruler over the past decade during Fahd's illness, has worked to seal a bond with President Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks strained U.S.-Saudi ties. He has cracked down on al Qaeda-linked militants in the last two years and begun initial steps of democratic reform.
A State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, said, "Right now, our main focus is on continuing the good work that we've done with the Saudi government and moving forward in our relationship under Saudi's new leadership."
Abdullah, who is already into his eighties, is the fifth son to hold the job.
The investiture ceremony — an Islamic tradition known as "bayah" — will seal what the Saudi royal family has been eager to show as a swift and orderly handover of power, the first in 23 years, in a kingdom beset by worries over the future.
Security was tight during Tuesday's funeral for Fahd, who died Monday at age 84. Security forces with automatic weapons, backed by armored vehicles, lined up outside the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque where a prayer for the dead was held before the burial. The neighborhood was closed off and shops shut.
Security agents in green berets circulated among the heads of states from Islamic nations and Saudi princes who packed the mosque in Riyadh. Mourners were asked to leave their prayer rugs outside as they entered the mosque, where they were given others to use.
Snipers overlooked the cemetery where Fahd's body was buried.
Austerity was the theme for the ceremonies for one of the world's richest monarchs, who had multiple palaces in Saudi Arabia, Europe and the Middle East. Ceremonies were simple, despite the presence of royals — including Jordan's King Abdullah II, the emirs of Persian Gulf nations and the sultan of Brunei — and presidents of Islamic and Arab powerhouses like Egypt, Syria and Pakistan.
Women and non-Muslims were not allowed at the ceremonies.
Abdullah and about 300 male relatives, some carrying colorful umbrellas to ward off the punishing sun, gathered for the burial at al-Oud cemetery, a desert plain with patches of brush among piles of dirt and small uninscribed stones to mark graves.
Mourners were silent as Fahd's sons lowered his body into the grave. The dead king was wrapped only in a white shroud. His plain brown cloak was removed before burial.
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