RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Prince Saud al-Faisal, who was the world’s longest-serving foreign minister, has died, family members and a foreign ministry spokesman said late Thursday.
“May God accept him in paradise,” the prince’s nephew Saud Mohammed
al-Abdullah al-Faisal said on Twitter.
President Mamnoon Hussain also expressed his deep grief and sorrow over the demise of former Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al Faisal.
In a message, the President said as Saudi foreign minister, the deceaded had rendered remarkable services.
He prayed that Allah Almighty may bless the departed soul with eternal bliss.
– Four decades in office –
Saud served under four monarchs, and took his final oath of office in March after King Salman acceded to the throne following the January death of king Abdullah, when Saud was in the United States for back surgery.
He was first named foreign minister in October 1975, seven months after his father, King Faisal, was assassinated by a nephew.
He was closely involved in efforts to end the 1975-1990 civil war in Lebanon and led the kingdom’s foreign policy during the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war, Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War in which US-led forces used Saudi Arabia as a launchpad.
But ties with Riyadh’s longtime ally Washington were sometimes strained, such as after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, in which 15 of 19 plane hijackers were Saudi.
Tensions eased after Riyadh began waging its own war on suspected Al-Qaeda militants who launched a spate of bombings and shootings in the kingdom in 2003.
While Saud frequently visited Washington or received US officials in Saudi Arabia, he was believed to be closer to European diplomats.
The prince often swapped the traditional Saudi thobe and checkered shemagh headdress for elegant suits when on missions in Western capitals.
Born in the southwestern mountain resort of Taif, Saud graduated with an economics degree from Princeton University in New Jersey in 1964.
He came to the foreign ministry after stints at state oil product firm Petromin and the ministry of oil and mineral resources.
The prince was married with three sons and three daughters.