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Last Updated: Monday, 22 December, 2003, 17:42 GMT
Profile: Ahmed Maher
Ahmed Maher
Maher is a skilled diplomat
A career diplomat, Ahmed Maher was pulled out of retirement to become Egypt's 71st foreign minister in 2001.

Generally considered an outsider, he replaced Amr Moussa, who left Egypt's top diplomatic post to head the 22-nation Arab League as secretary general.

Born in Cairo on 14 September, 1935, Mr Maher came from a family of distinguished diplomats and politicians.

After studying law at Cairo University, he entered the foreign ministry, serving as a junior diplomat in Congo, France and Switzerland in the 1960s.

Anti-war stance

He rose quickly through the diplomat ranks, and was posted as Egypt's ambassador to Moscow during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In 1992 he was appointed ambassador to Washington, a role he fulfilled until 1999.

In 2000, he became director of the Arab Fund for Technical Assistance to African States at the Arab League.

On policy, Mr Maher criticised Washington's calls for the replacement of Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein, maintaining the choice of the head of state was the affair of the countries concerned.

Before the US-led invasion of Iraq, he said military confrontation was the last thing the region needed.

He warned that economies would be hit and that an atmosphere of violence would emerge that would affect everybody.

'Quiet man'

This summer, he said Arab countries could not recognise the legitimacy of the US-appointed Interim Governing Council (IGC) in Iraq.

He said recognition of the council in future would depend on its relations with the US-led occupying force.

Described as a quiet, calm man, he reportedly has a history of heart problems; he is married.

He has been awarded the Order of the Republic Fourth Class by Egypt and similar titles by France and Portugal.

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