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Syria’s Assad names veteran diplomat Faisal Mekdad as new foreign minister

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad (photo by EPA)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has appointed Faisal Mekdad as the new foreign minister to replace his predecessor Walid al-Muallem, who recently passed away.

The presidency announced in a statement that President Assad also named Syria’s former permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, Bashar al-Ja’afari, as deputy foreign minister.

Ja’afari will be replaced by Syrian Ambassador to Vienna Bassam al-Sabbagh.

Mekdad, 66, started a career at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in 1994, and has been deputy foreign minister since 2006.

He was his country's permanent representative to the UN from 2003 to 2006 before he became deputy foreign minister. Mekdad accompanied Muallem to most meetings and conferences.

He was born in 1956 in Ghasam village which lies in the southern province of Daraa.

The top Syrian diplomat holds a doctorate in English literature from Charles University in Prague.

Ja’afari was born in 1956 and hails from Damascus. He holds degrees in French literature and translation, a doctorate in political sciences from the Sorbonne University in Paris and is fluent in English, French and Farsi, in addition to his native Arabic.

Muallem died on November 16 at the age of 79 after suffering years of a heart condition.

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