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James E. Akins, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, dies at 83

July 26, 2010 |  1:34 am

James E. Akins, U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s, has died. He was 83.

Akins died of a heart attack July 15 at a retirement village in Mitchellville, Md., his daughter Mary Beth Colvill said Sunday.

Akins took over as ambassador in September 1973, just a month before the Arab oil embargo began in October in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel. The embargo ended a year later, but Americans still remember the rationing and especially the long lines at gas stations.

Then-Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger fired Akins in 1975, citing differences. Akins later consulted for multinational corporations, specializing in the Middle East and energy issues, his daughter said.

He was born Oct. 15, 1926, in Akron, Ohio, and attended the University of Akron. After leaving for two years to serve in the Navy in World War II, he graduated in 1947 with a bachelor of science degree. He entered the Foreign Service in 1954 and spent two decades overseas, including Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait and Iraq.

He was appointed to the State Department's top energy post in 1968, where he served until becoming ambassador.

-- Associated Press