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Syria foreign minister hospitalised in Beirut

14 March 2014, 20:29

Beirut - Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem, who led the regime's negotiating team at the failed peace talks this year, has been admitted to hospital in neighbouring Lebanon, a medical source said on Friday.

Muallem, who has been the chief diplomat of President Bashar Assad's regime throughout the three-year civil war, is undergoing tests for a suspected blocked coronary artery, the source told AFP.

The 73-year-old diplomat "was admitted to the American University Hospital in Beirut under tight security on Thursday evening", the source said.

"It is very possible that the doctors will decide to carry out open-heart bypass surgery."

Radio Liban Libre reported that Muallem had been brought into the renowned Beirut hospital through an underground car park accompanied by a large number of bodyguards.

The conflict in Syria has deeply polarised Lebanon, with Sunnis largely supporting the rebels and the Shi’ite Hezbollah movement intervening militarily on the side of Assad's regime.

The rift has seen a spill over of violence into Lebanon, with a spate of bombings claimed by Sunni militants hitting Hezbollah strongholds in south Beirut as well as the eastern Bekaa Valley near the border.

Muallem served as Syrian ambassador in Washington from 1990 to 2000 and became foreign minister in 2006.



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