Veteran Syrian diplomat Mekdad named foreign minister, state media says
AMMAN (Reuters) - Syria's President Bashar al Assad named veteran diplomat Faisal Mekdad as foreign minister on Sunday to replace Walid Moalem, who died last week, state media reported. Mekdad, 66, had been deputy foreign minister since 2006. He has also held a string of diplomatic posts, including envoy to the United Nations.
AMMAN (Reuters) - Syria's President Bashar al Assad named veteran diplomat Faisal Mekdad as foreign minister on Sunday to replace Walid Moalem, who died last week, state media reported.
Mekdad, 66, had been deputy foreign minister since 2006. He has also held a string of diplomatic posts, including envoy to the United Nations.
Assad also appointed Bashar al-Jaafari, currently ambassador to the U.N., as deputy foreign minister.
Mekdad, like Moalem, is a staunch defender of Assad's bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters in 2011, when thousands took to the streets calling for an end to the Assad family's decades-old authoritarian rule that later erupted into a full-scale civil war.
Moalem died last Monday at the age of 79, after suffering years of heart problems.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif phoned Mekdad and congratulated him on his new position, stressing Tehran's "continued strategic cooperation" with Syria, official Iranian media outlets said.
Mekdad is a strong advocate of strengthening ties with Iran and Russia, the two main allies who have helped shore up Assad's rule and allowed him to regain most of the territory he once lost to the armed opposition.
The veteran diplomat has also been the country's main interlocuter with U.N. agencies and foreign agencies based in Damascus and instrumental in efforts to divert aid to serve the cash-strapped government's priorities, U.N. sources and international aid workers say.
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Paul Simao)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.