Saudi crown prince in US for medical tests

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef is in the United States for medical tests, the kingdom's state media reported on Friday.

The Saudi Press Agency and state television said Nayef was in Cleveland for what was described as "scheduled" tests. No further details were given about the condition of the 78-year-old heir to the throne.

Nayef was named crown prince in October following the death of Prince Sultan, who had been the next in line to rule the critical Western ally.

Nayef, who has also been the Saudi interior minister for more than three decades, is considered highly conservative and close to the hard-line Islamic clerical establishment that holds vast power in the oil-rich kingdom. He has also been in charge of Saudi crackdowns on al-Qaida cells and anti-militant campaigns.

Saudi's ruling family, which oversees Islam's holiest sites, draws its legitimacy from the backing of the kingdom's religious establishment, which follows a strict brand of Islam known as Wahhabism. While Saudi King Abdullah has pushed for some changes on women's rights, he is cautious not to push too hard against the clerics.

The 87-year-old Saudi King Abdullah underwent a series of back operations in recent years.