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Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem dies at 79: State TV

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem (File photo by AFP)

Veteran Syrian diplomat and the country’s long-time foreign minister, Walid Muallem, has died at the age of 79, Syria’s state TV reports.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates mourns the death of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Walid Muallem," a statement by the Syrian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

There were no details on the cause of his death, but the 79-year old had for years been in poor health with heart problems.

Al-Muallem worked at the Syrian Foreign Ministry since 1964. He served in Syrian diplomatic missions in Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the UK, was the ambassador to Romania and the US.

The veteran diplomat was first appointed foreign minister in 2006 and also held the post of deputy prime minister.

He was a close ally of President Bashar al-Assad during the country's civil war, which erupted in 2011.

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