RIYADH - Saudi King Abdullah appointed Prince Salman bin Sultan as deputy defense minister late on Tuesday in a move that strengthens his credentials for future high office in the world's top oil exporter.
The move was made in a royal decree carried by state news agency SPA. It did not give a reason for the switch.
Prince Salman is a deputy head of the national security council, was born in 1976 and is a son of the late Crown Prince Sultan, a veteran defense minister until his death in 2011.
He has worked closely alongside his brother, intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, on Saudi support for Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad.
Princes who aspire to hold top positions in the conservative Islamic kingdom are seen by analysts as needing to have held jobs that have a security role, such as those in the defense, foreign or interior ministries or the national guard.