Middle East

Saudi long-serving foreign minister Saud al-Faisal dies

Prince Saud al-Faisal. Photo: January 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Prince Saud al-Faisal was Saudi Arabia's foreign minister for 40 years

Saudi Arabia's Prince Saud al-Faisal - who was the world's longest-serving foreign minister - has died aged 75.

There is no official word on the cause of death. The prince had had a number of surgeries in recent years.

He was the kingdom's foreign minister for 40 years, before retiring in April. Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said the world had lost a "noble" diplomat.

Analysts say he was widely respected, and navigated through decades of turbulence in the Middle East.

He was regarded as the public face and voice of a country that preferred to conduct its diplomacy discreetly.

"Prince Saud al Faisal was a man of great humanity, compassion and wisdom," former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a statement. "He worked tirelessly for peace."

Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman Osama Nugali said: "The eye tears, the heart saddens."

The son of King Faisal, Prince Saud was born in 1940, and was among the first generation to receive both a traditional and a Western education.

Prince Saud studied economics at Princeton University in the US in the 1960s.

In 1970, he became deputy governor of the former state-owned natural resources company, Petromin, and the following year was appointed deputy minister of petroleum and mineral resources.

He was was appointed foreign minister in 1975.

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