BEIRUT, Lebanon — Prince Saud al-Faisal, the urbane diplomat who used quiet diplomacy to maintain Saudi Arabia’s regional influence and alliance with the United States during his four decades as foreign minister, died on Thursday, according to Saudi officials and state news media. He was 75.
Before his retirement in April, Prince Saud was the world’s longest-serving foreign minister and helped shape the kingdom’s responses to monumental changes in the Middle East.
During his tenure, he dealt with a civil war in Lebanon, whose end he helped mediate; the Palestinian uprisings against Israel in 1987 and 2000; the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon; the American invasion of Iraq in 2003; and the Arab uprisings of 2011.
He used a combination of oil wealth, religious influence and close relationships with world leaders as leverage for diplomacy that was most often done far from the public eye.
“It was traditional, state diplomacy that was conservative, quiet and logical,” said Abdullah al-Shammari, a Saudi political analyst in Riyadh, the capital, and a former diplomat. “He did not take hasty or emotional positions.”
The length of Prince Saud’s tenure and his role inside the royal family made him an essential player in the reigns of four Saudi kings and an interlocutor for seven American presidents.