A former Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, is dead, according to Saudi sources.
He reportedly died two months after he was replaced following 40 years on the job.
Al-Faisal, who was appointed in 1975, was the world’s longest serving foreign minister when he was replaced on April 29 by Adel al-Jubeir, the then ambassador to Washington.
Faisal served under four Saudi kings, advancing the Kingdom’s foreign policy especially after the attacks of 9-11, 2001 in the United States.
He was also part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to lessen Iran’s influence in the region, including the continuing conflict in Syria, where Saudi Arabia has been supporting several rebel groups.
As the foreign minister of an important political and economic US ally in the region, Faisal is reported to have been well liked and respected in diplomatic circles.
He was often described as a charismatic leader willing to talk to reporters, and with a sense of humour.
But with age, he faced many health problems.
In the last few years, despite suffering from chronic back pain and having various surgeries, Faisal maintained his challenging role.
As foreign minister he has been quoted in expressing regret that a Palestinian state never took shape during his career.
Faisal’s position however, was always as subordinate to the King, who has the final say.
After King Abdullah’s death in January, Prince Salman became the new monarch and with Faisal’s departure, bigger questions will be asked about what the new leadership means for Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy.