Syria’s veteran Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem died on Monday at the age of 79, Syria’s Council of Ministers and Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Syrian state media said al-Moallem died at dawn Monday, but did not reveal the cause of death.
Al-Moallem, known for his calm and soft-spoken voice, served as Syria’s ambassador to the United States from 1990 until 1999.
He has been Syria’s foreign minister since 2006. He was also named deputy prime minister in 2012 and has held both portfolios since then.
Al-Maollem was regarded as the country’s top diplomat, and was known for his loyalty to Syria’s ruling Al-Assad family.
Born in 1941, he studied economics at Cairo University in Egypt and graduated in 1963. He started working at Syria’s foreign ministry in 1964 and served in several diplomatic missions abroad.
Al-Moallem was known for his long press conferences, in which he chiefly defended the position of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the Syrian uprising started in 2011.
The top Syrian diplomat was married and had three children. He also wrote four books. These are: “Palestine and Armed Peace 1970” “Syria in the Mandate Period from 1917 to 1948”, “Syria from Independence to Unity from 1948 to 1958” and “The World and the Middle East in the American Perspective.”