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New Saudi ambassadors take up posts in Washington, London

The new appointments come amid a tense period in bilateral relationships [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 July, 2019

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Saudi Arabia’s new ambassadors to the US and the UK took their posts amid tensions with Western allies over the Yemen war and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia has appointed new ambassadors to the US and the UK after several months' vacancy amid tensions with Western allies over the Saudi-led war on Yemen and the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan and her brother Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan presented their credentials in Washington and London respectively, Saudi state-run news agency SPA reported on Thursday.

The new appointments come amid a tense period in bilateral relationships with the oil-rich kingdom, with increasing criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and calls to freeze arms sales from both Washington and London.

Princess Reema, who is now the Gulf kingdom's first female ambassador, took up the post in February to replace Prince Khalid bin Salman.

Prince Khalid, who is now deputy defense minister, had reportedly spoken to journalist Khashoggi before his death and assured him that he would be able to visit the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Prince Khalid, a brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has denied what he called a "serious accusation".

The CIA and some Western countries believe the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.

The new ambassadors, both in their 40s, are the children of the once-powerful Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was the Saudi ambassador to Washington for 22 years until 2005.

Princess Reema took up the post as the ultra-conservative kingdom is opening up and granting women more freedom.

Human rights group vehemently criticise Riyadh for cracking down on dissent including the detention and torture of around a dozen women activists, most of whom had campaigned for the right to drive, which was granted last year.

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