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French President Names New FM in Government Reshuffle

FILE - Then-French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault leaves the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris, Jan. 10, 2013.

French President Francois Hollande has named former prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault as foreign minister in a government reshuffle announced Thursday.

Ayrault replaces Laurent Fabius, who was a key player last year in negotiations that led to the nuclear accord with Iran, as well as a notable climate agreement in Paris.

A member of the Socialist party, Ayrault left the post as prime minister in 2014 as his unpopularity approached a record high for failing to boost France's stagnant economy and lower the unemployment rate. Many also blamed Ayrault for a rise in taxes.

As a former professor of German, Ayrault possesses a linguistic ability that will be key in building upon French-German diplomatic relations. The two nations hold leading roles in the European Union.

For the first time in France's history, a former prime minister comes back to claim another position less than two years later and within the same presidential term.

Fabius will become chief of the Constitutional Council, France's top court.

Hollande also named a member of the French Greens Party (EELV), Emmanuelle Cosse, as housing minister and replaced Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin with Audrey Azoulay, previously adviser to Hollande on culture and communication issues.

France's government is comprised of 18 ministers and 20 junior ministers.