Merkel’s close associate Ian Hecker has died

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The German ambassador to China, the Jan Hecker, died just days after taking office, the federal foreign ministry announced today.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of the German ambassador to China,” the German foreign minister said in a press release posted on his website. “Our thoughts right now are with his family and the people who have had a close relationship with him.”

The announcement does not specify the cause of death of the 54-year-old German diplomat, until a former adviser to the chancellor Angela Merkel and her close associate on foreign policy, who took up the post in Beijing in August. Frank Rickert’s assistant will take over his duties temporarily.

Born in Kiel, Jan Hecker studied law and served as a prosecutor and judge. He was married and the father of three children. He was a university lecturer before being called to advise Mrs Merkel.

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