By Rishi Iyengar
January 23, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Friday, hailing the late monarch’s contributions to peace in the Middle East and the relationship between the two allies.

“As our countries work together to confront many challenges, I always valued King Abdullah’s perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship,” Obama said in a statement. “The closeness and strength of the partnership between our two countries is part of King Abdullah’s legacy.”

Former President George H.W. Bush also released a statement calling Abdullah “a wise and reliable ally, helping our nations build a strategic relationship and enduring friendship,” according to CBS News.

Messages came in from leaders around the world, with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both expressing regret at Abdullah’s demise. Cameron, who visited Saudi Arabia in 2012, said he was “deeply saddened” and expressed hope that the “long and deep ties between our two Kingdoms will continue,” while Modi took to Twitter to commemorate “an important voice who left a lasting impact on his country.”

Abdullah’s spearheading of the Arab Peace Initiative, which was cited by both Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as one of his key achievements, was also included in U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s condolence message as “a tangible legacy that can still point the way towards peace in the Middle East.”

Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com.

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