British prime minister, David Cameron, has appointed his former defence minister Philip Hammond as foreign minister in a major cabinet reshuffle.

"Philip Hammond is the new Foreign Secretary," Cameron announced on his official Twitter feed.

Hammond, who had served as defence secretary since 2011, replaces William Hague, who resigned in a surprise move late on Monday. Hague has been Britian's most visible statesman on international crises in the Middle East and Ukraine.

As defence secretary, Hammond  favoured Western military intervention in Syria and expressed personal disappointment when the British parliment rejected the posibility. 

In one of his last acts as defence minister Hammond toured the Persian Gulf to meet with allies in the region to discuss the conflict in Iraq. Hammond ruled out any British military intervention in that case. 

"We don't see it as being a route to a sustainable solution.  There must be, first of all, a political solution and then a legitimised inclusive government has to deal with the security challenge," Hammond said .  

On Europe, Hammond has said he would rather Britain leave the European Union if planned renegotiations of membership terms proved unsucessful.

Hammond's appointment is part of a major shakeup of Prime Minister David Cameron's cabinet in advance of a general election next year.  

Education Secretary Michael Gove will also move to a new post as Chief Whip and Michael Fallon, who served as the minister for business and enterprise and as minister of state for energy with replace Hammond as defence secretary.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies