Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz has issued a wide-ranging overhaul of top government posts, including naming a new foreign minister, following global criticism of the killing of Saudi journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi on October 2 by a hit squad sent from Riyadh.
He also ordered a shakeup of the kingdom's two supreme councils that oversee matters related to the economy and security, respectively.
But the appointment as foreign minister of Assaf, who holds a seat on the boards of state oil giant Aramco and the vast Public Investment Fund, indicates an emphasis on "economic diplomacy" as the kingdom seeks to reassure foreign investors rattled by the Khashoggi crisis, analysts say.
"Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman consolidates power as he appoints key allies in a new cabinet reshuffle and a new head of the National Guard", Ali Shihabi, head of the pro-Saudi think tank Arabia Foundation, said on Twitter.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman talks with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 9, 2018.
Adel al-Jubeir, the soft-spoken foreign minister since 2015, was replaced by Ibrahim al-Assaf, who was formerly a finance minister. The crown prince oversees both entities.
Jubeir was effectively demoted to minister of state for foreign affairs, the decree added without explaining the change, as the kingdom appears diplomatically weakened after Khashoggi's murder.
In other changes, Turki al-Shabanah was appointed as the new information minister, replacing Awwad al-Awwad - who was named as an advisor to the royal court.
The kingdom has said Khashoggi was killed inside its Istanbul consulate in a "rogue operation" led by Saudi agents, but the Central Intelligence Agency reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed ordered his assassination. Hamad al-Sheikh was made education minister.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Riyadh for hastily arranged talks with top Saudi leaders, as sources told CNN that the Kingdom is preparing to acknowledge that missing journalist Kamal Khashoggi died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Al-Assaf, his replacement, had been serving as a minister of state prior to being named foreign minister. Prince Abdullah had been deputy governor of Mecca.
General Kalid bin Qirar al Harbi was named general security chief, while Musaed a Aiban was appointed national security adviser.
Khashoggi was an outspoken critic of the ruling House of Saud.
The critic's killing has tainted the image of 33-year-old Prince Mohammed - the de facto ruler and heir apparent - even though the kingdom strongly denies he was involved. The U.S. Senate, however, passed a unanimous resolution saying it believes the crown prince is to blame for the murder.