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Saudi defense minister named crown prince

June 18, 2012 at 1:17 PM
| License Photo

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, June 18 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia's defense minister was named crown prince of the oil-rich kingdom Monday, the government announced.

Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, 76, is the half-brother of King Abdullah and will take the place of the 88-year-old monarch in the event of his death.

Salman, who had been the long-time governor of Riyadh, replaced Crown Prince Nayef, who died Saturday in Switzerland.

Al-Arabiya described Salman as pragmatic, fairly moderate and possessing a keen understanding of Saudi politics. U.S. diplomats said in a 2007 cable posted by WikiLeaks he appeared to favor social reform but preferred a cautious approach that would not unduly shake up the Kingdom's conservative culture.

As defense minister, Salman oversaw a modernization program that recently included sizable purchases of military jets from the United States and Great Britain and was working on a major order for German-built Leopard tanks.

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