We are not in crisis: New Saudi foreign minister

Riyadh
29 Dec 2018

Saudi Arabia's new foreign minister struck a note of defiance Friday in the face of international outrage over critic Jamal Khashoggi's murder, rejecting the kingdom was in crisis and his predecessor had been demoted.
Ibrahim al-Assaf, a former veteran finance minister who was briefly detained last year in what Riyadh said was an anti-corruption sweep, replaced Adel al-Jubeir as foreign minister in a major government shake-up on Thursday ordered by King Salman.
The surprise reshuffle was seen partly as an attempt to elevate the kingdom's marginalised old guard, adding a veneer of checks and balances in the policy decisions of 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who faces intense global scrutiny over the October 2 murder of journalist Khashoggi.
But speaking to AFP in his first interview since his appointment, Assaf insisted the restructuring was motivated not by the Khashoggi affair, but the need to make the government machinery more efficient.
"The issue of Jamal Khashoggi... really saddened us, all of us," Assaf told AFP at his residence in Riyadh.  When asked whether his biggest  challenge was to repair the kingdom's tarnished reputation, Assaf replied: "I wouldn't say 'repair' because the relationship between my country and a vast majority of countries in the world is in excellent shape." (AFP)