Saeb Salam, 95, a six-time prime minister of Lebanon who had been called "the last of the godfathers" of his country's independence, died Jan. 21 in Beirut after a heart attack.
Mr. Salam, a Sunni Muslim, was a quintessential Lebanese politician, sporting a trademark white carnation in his lapel and smoking cigars. He served in parliament for more than 40 years and helped broker the election of nearly every president in his country's history.
An early Arab nationalist, under the slogan of "One Lebanon, not two Lebanons," he became a champion of an independent Lebanon and of reconciliation between Christian and Muslim groups. A 1945 founder of Middle East Airlines, he had helped lead his country when it was the economic envy of the Arab world in the 1950s and '60s.
Mr. Salam entered parliament in 1943, the year Lebanon achieved independence. He became prime minister for the first time in 1952, holding the office for only four days. He returned to the premiership in 1953.
Three years later, while he was serving as minister of state for oil affairs and supporting President Camille Chamoun, Israel, Britain and France invaded Egypt in what became known as the Suez War. Mr. Salam resigned from the cabinet in protest over Chamoun's lack of support for Egypt.
By 1958, Mr. Salam and others had lost their parliamentary seats in a controversial election, and their electoral adversary, Chamoun, announced that he was breaking precedent to run for a second term as chief of state. Mr. Salam was a leader in the five-month armed uprising against Chamoun.
The president was widely regarded in the United States as "pro-West," while Mr. Salam and his allies were viewed as followers of Egyptian leader Gammal Abdul Nasser. As a result, U.S. Marines landed in Beirut to reestablish a stable government.
As part of a series of compromises, Chamoun stepped down as president and was succeeded by Fuad Chehab, the army commander. Mr. Salam, not for the last time, became a voice of moderation and national reconciliation, with the slogan "No winner, no loser." He went on to serve for a time as prime minister under Chehab.
In the 1960s, Mr. Salam allied himself with Suleiman Franjieh, helping him to the presidency. He broke with Franjieh and resigned the premiership over the 1973 raid on Beirut by Israeli commandos--led by Israel's current prime minister, Ehud Barak--that resulted in the death of three Palestinian leaders.
Although he was never again to serve as prime minister, Mr. Salam continued to exert enormous influence on his country's fate. With the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975, he became a loud and eloquent voice for national reconciliation between Christian and Muslim groups.
In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to do battle against the Palestine Liberation Organization, which had taken over parts of southern Lebanon as a base of operations. Mr. Salam helped broker a deal between U.S. special envoy Philip Habib and PLO leader Yasser Arafat that resulted in the PLO's withdrawal of its military forces from Lebanon.
In the 1980s, Mr. Salam became a target as an outspoken advocate of peace and moved to Switzerland following two assassination attempts. He took part in abortive peace conferences in Geneva, in 1983, and Lausanne, in 1984. He was credited as a leading player in the Taif Accord, reached in Saudi Arabia in 1989, which ended the Lebanese Civil War.
Mr. Salam was a native and resident of Beirut. His father, Salim Salam, was a leading Lebanese politician during the years the country was governed first by the Ottoman Turks and then by France.
The younger Mr. Salam entered politics in 1936 when he campaigned for an Arab Nationalist candidate for parliament. Entering parliament himself in 1943, he assumed his first cabinet post in 1946 when he was named interior minister.
Survivors include his wife, the former Tamima Reda Mardam-Beik, whom he married in 1941 and who lives in Beirut; and four children, including a son, Tammam, who lives in Beirut and is a member of parliament.