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Saudi Arabia names prince with Western experience as foreign minister

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Saudi Arabia names prince with Western experience as foreign minister
FILE PHOTO: New ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Germany Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud poses for the media after his diplomatic accreditation at Bellevue Palace in Berlin, Germany, March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch   -   Copyright  Fabrizio Bensch(Reuters)
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RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia appointed as foreign minister on Wednesday a prince with diplomatic experience in the West in a partial cabinet reshuffle as the kingdom tries to mend its international image and prepares to take over the Group of 20 presidency next year.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud had served for the last few months as Saudi ambassador to Germany and earlier as political adviser at the Washington embassy. His previous business career in the defence industry included being chairman of a joint venture with planemaker Boeing <BA.N> .

Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in confronting Iran, has faced intense Western criticism in the past year over its human rights record, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its involvement in the devastating war in Yemen.

Outgoing foreign minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, who had earlier served as finance minister for years, remains a minister of state. He was appointed less than a year ago to restructure the ministry.

As part of Wednesday’s reshuffle, which was announced in state media, Saleh al-Jasser, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, replaced Nabil al-Amoudi as transport minister.

It was unclear if Amoudi would have another government position. He was appointed last month to the board of state oil giant Saudi Aramco, which is planning a partial share flotation.

(Reporting by Hesham Abdul Khalek in Cairo and Stephen Kalin and Marwa Rashad in Riyadh; Editing by Chris Reese and Andrew Cawthorne)

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