Saudi Arabia's King Salman has appointed his son, Prince Khaled bin Salman, as the country’s ambassador to the US, in a move said to point to strengthening ties to President Donald Trump.
Prince Khaled is an Air Force pilot who has taken part in operations in Yemen and against ISIS, AP reports. The prince, who studied military aviation in the US and briefly attended both Harvard University and Georgetown, has been working as an adviser at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington since last year.
Khaled’s position will allow Trump a direct line to the Saudi monarchy, further signalling warmer relations between the two powers after a cooling following the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with regional rival Iran.
Saudi Arabia’s defense minister, and another of King Salman’s sons, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, met with Trump in the White House in March.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis met with King Salman and Prince Mohammed in Riyadh on Wednesday and said it was in the US’s interest “to see a strong Saudi Arabia,” in reference to its “military security services and secret services.”
Mattis also said the Saudi nemesis, Iran, aims to “destabilize” the region. “Everywhere you look if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran,” Mattis told reporters in Riyadh. The statement echoed the Saudi government’s own stance.
Prince Khaled replaces Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki as ambassador to the US. Prince Abdullah held the post for 18 months.
The Kingdom also fired Information Minister Adel Al-Toraifi, replacing him with former ambassador to Germany Awwad bin Al-Awwad. A number of new appointments were announced Friday, and shared by the Saudi Government Press Agency.