The deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Syria for the last 14 years, Walid al-Mualem, considered one of the pillars of President Bachar al-Asad's regime, died on Monday at the age of 79, reported the state news agency SANA, which did not specify the causes of his death.
"The Presidency of the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates are mourning the death of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Walid al-Mualem, who died early on Monday morning," SANA said.
Al-Mualem, who took over the foreign ministry in February 2006, has remained in office despite the succession of different governments and has been one of the most prominent figures of the Al-Asad regime in recent years.
His last public appearance took place on Wednesday last week during the opening of an International Conference on Syrian Refugee Returns in Damascus.
Born in the Syrian capital in 1941, he was a veteran diplomat who has played a leading role in developing Syria's relations with Iran and Russia during the war his country has been experiencing since 2011, as well as in the complete break with the European Union and the United States.
A graduate in Economics and Political Science from Cairo University, before taking charge of Syrian foreign policy in February 2006, he carried out diplomatic work in countries such as Spain, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia and served as Syria's ambassador to the United States from 1990 to 1999.