RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new foreign minister on Friday said the recently announced government reshuffle is part of Saudi Arabia’s transformation plans, rejecting the Kingdom was in crisis and his predecessor was demoted.
“The issue of Jamal Khashoggi... really saddened us, all of us,” Ibrahim Al-Assaf told AFP, a day after he was appointed foreign minister in a government reshuffle.
“But all in all, we are not going through a crisis, we are going through a transformation,” he added, referring to social and economic reforms spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Al-Assaf replaced Adel Al-Jubeir as foreign minister in the sweeping government shake-up ordered by King Salman. Responding to claims that Al-Jubeir was demoted, Al-Assaf said: “This is far from the truth. Adel represented Saudi Arabia and will continue to represent Saudi Arabia... around the world. We complement each other.”
Asked whether his biggest foreign policy challenge was to repair the Kingdom’s reputation, Al-Assaf said: “I wouldn’t say ‘repair’ because the relationship between my country and a vast majority of countries in the world is in excellent shape.”
Al-Assaf said his appointment as the top diplomat would help bring his financial experience to foreign affairs amid a current “dip” in the economy.
The reshuffle of the government was expected as the Cabinet must be replaced and reappointed by royal order every four years, according to a statement from the government communications office. “The reshuffle is designed to ensure that the Cabinet has the best combination of the experience and know-how to meet the needs of the Kingdom over the coming four years,” a government official said in the statement.