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Obama congratulates new king of the Belgians

King Philippe of Belgium, his wife Queen Mathilde and their children wave from the Royal Palace in Brussels, July 21, 2013
King Philippe of Belgium, his wife Queen Mathilde and children Princess Eleonore, Prince Gabriel, Princess Elisabeth and Prince Emmanuel wave to the crowds from the balcony of the Royal Palace in Brussels on July 21, 2013. US President Barack Obama has se

President Barack Obama sent best wishes to Belgium's new King Philippe on Sunday after the abdication of his father, Albert II.

"On behalf of the American people, the president congratulates His Majesty King Philippe on the occasion of his investiture as King of the Belgians," the White House said in a statement.

Philippe, 53, was sworn into office by the joint houses of parliament shortly after Albert,79, stepped down, citing failing health.

The White House said: "The president also sends his heartfelt appreciation to King Albert II for his warmth, service and leadership as he steps down after nearly 20 years."

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