The Latest: Iran calls on Saudi Arabia to release detainees

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - The Latest on Saudi Arabia's King Salman appointing his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince (all times local):

1 p.m.

Iran has called on Saudi Arabia to immediately release three detained Iranians that it says were fishermen but that Saudi authorities say were trying to carry out an attack.

Iran's Interior Ministry said Wednesday that the Saudi government should "compensate" the detainees and "punish the agents of this irresponsible action."

Saudi Arabia says the three were Revolutionary Guard members. It says their boat was loaded with explosives and they were heading toward the Marjan offshore oil field in the Persian Gulf when they were apprehended on Friday.

Iran has denied the allegations, saying they were fishermen whose boat was carried off course.

The two countries are bitter regional rivals, and severed diplomatic ties last year.

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12:35 p.m.

Saudi Arabia's top clerical council has endorsed King Salman's decision to put his 31-year-old son next in line to the throne.

The Council of Senior Scholars issued the statement Wednesday via the state-run Saudi Press Agency about the ascension of Mohammed bin Salman to the role of crown prince.

The council is the highest religious body in the ultraconservative Sunni kingdom. Its members are appointed by the king and paid by the government.

King Salman issued a series of royal decrees early Wednesday stripping Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from his title as crown prince and from his post as the country's powerful interior minister overseeing security.

The newly announced Crown Prince Mohammed, who also serves as defense minister and oversees a vast economic portfolio, had previously been second in line to the throne.

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11:50 a.m.

The Saudi stock market is up over 4 percent after news that King Salman has placed his 31-year-old son next in line to the throne.

The Saudi Tadawul index, the largest in the Middle East, also was boosted by news that some benefits for civil servants were being restored.

The Tadawul also cleared a major hurdle from the global stock benchmark provider MSCI to be included among its emerging markets. That's something closely followed by fund managers and could mean a lot more foreign investment coming into the kingdom.

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11:35 a.m.

Kuwait's ruling emir has welcomed Saudi Arabia's new crown prince.

Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah sent a cable of congratulations Wednesday to King Salman over his elevation of his son, 31-year-old Mohammed bin Salman.

That's according to a statement carried by Kuwait's state-run KUNA news agency.

King Salman issued a series of royal decrees early Wednesday stripping Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from his title as crown prince and from his post as the country's powerful interior minister overseeing security.

The newly announced Crown Prince Mohammed, who also serves as defense minister and oversees a vast economic portfolio, had previously been second in line to the throne.

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8:55 a.m.

Saudi state media says the kingdom's former crown prince has pledged his allegiance to King Salman's son, 31-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, whom he appointed in his place.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency said Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who once was first in line to the throne, met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a royal palace in Mecca on Wednesday morning.

Saudi state television aired footage of the two meeting, with the new crown prince kissing Prince Mohammed bin Nayef's hand, then kneeling down in front of him.

The newly announced Crown Prince Mohammed, who also serves as defense minister and oversees a vast economic portfolio, had previously been second in line to the throne.

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8:40 a.m.

An analyst who studies the Gulf says the appointment of Saudi King Salman's son as crown prince could have a big effect on the kingdom.

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a Seattle-based research fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, says the appointment of Mohammed bin Salman could set Saudi policy for decades just due to his young age.

Ulrichsen tells The Associated Press that Mohammed bin Salman's appointment also removes the challenge of having an increasingly elderly set of royals rule the kingdom.

However, the analyst says the speed at which the new crown prince has pushed his assertive policies, including the war in Yemen and an effort to privatize part of the kingdom's state-run oil company, has unnerved some within the royal family.

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7:35 a.m.

Saudi King Salman has issued an order for high-ranking royals to pledge their allegiance to his son, 31-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, at a ceremony in Mecca.

The order, carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, said the meeting would take place after a special prayer Wednesday night amid the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Mecca is home to Islam's holiest site, the cube-shaped Kaaba.

The order comes immediately after King Salman issued series of royal decrees stripped Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was first in line to the throne, from his title as crown prince and from his post as the country's powerful interior minister overseeing security.

The newly announced Crown Prince Mohammed, who also serves as defense minister and oversees a vast economic portfolio, had previously been second in line to the throne.

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7:20 a.m.

Saudi state television says 31 of 34 royals supported Saudi Arabia's King Salman appointing his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince.

State television flashed the news across its broadcasts early Wednesday morning.

That came after a series of royal decrees stripped Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was first in line to the throne, from his title as crown prince and from his post as the country's powerful interior minister overseeing security.

The newly announced Crown Prince Mohammed, who also serves as defense minister and oversees a vast economic portfolio, had previously been second in line to the throne.

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6:55 a.m.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has appointed his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince, removing the country's counterterrorism czar and a figure well-known to Washington from the royal line of succession.

In a series of royal decrees issued Wednesday and carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the monarch stripped Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was first in line to the throne, from his title as crown prince and from his post as the country's powerful interior minister overseeing security.

The newly announced Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also serves as defense minister and oversees a vast economic portfolio, had previously been second in line to the throne, though royal watchers had long suspected his quick rise to power might accelerate his inheriting of the throne.

© 2017 Associated Press


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