Syrian FM recovering from heart surgery

Photo: Syrian FM recovering from heart surgery / Arab World

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem is recovering in a Beirut hospital after undergoing heart surgery on Friday, Syrian state media said.

Muallem had been admitted to the American University of Beirut Medical Center on Thursday, where coronary tests showed the 73-year-old needed an operation, Al Arabiya reported.

SANA news agency said the operation, which it described as a planned procedure, had been a success.

Muallem, Syria's top diplomat since 2006, led the Syrian official government delegation to peace negotiations in Geneva with representatives of the opposition who are seeking to end President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

Two rounds of peace talks mediated by U.N. peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi in January and February failed to bring the sides closer to agreement on a transitional government or halt fighting that has killed more than 146,000 people since the conflict started in March 2011.

Lebanese lawmaker Assem Qanso, who visited al-Muallem before the operation, told reporters outside the hospital that Syria's top diplomat is "in stable condition" and would undergo an operation, Associated Press reported.

"Some of his arteries are blocked. He will undergo an operation and God willing it will be good. It is not dangerous," Qanso, a close ally of the Syrian government, told The Associated Press in brief comments.

The security officials said that al-Muallem walked slowly and unassisted when he arrived at the hospital. Officials at the hospital - which has treated several ranking officials from Assad's government in the past - refused to confirm that al-Muallem was being treated there, saying they give no such information to "third parties."

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