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Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 16:10 GMT
Winter wonder break for Blair family
Tony and Cherie Blair in Egypt
Tony and Cherie visited the pyramids at Giza
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his family are enjoying a post-Christmas break in Egypt.

Downing Street confirmed that Mr Blair, his wife Cherie and their four children, left Britain on Wednesday for a winter break.

They were later seen visiting the pyramids in Giza, Egypt, one of the seven wonders of the world.

The prime minister, clad in baggy t-shirt and dark blue jeans, waved to cameramen at the tourist site.

Tony and Cherie Blair at the sphinx
The famous sphinx was on the couple's itinerary
Mr Blair was recently in Egypt during his hectic post-11 September shuttle diplomacy.

He racked up thousands of miles of air travel seeking to build and maintain support for international action against terrorism.

A Downing Street spokesman said he would be holding no official meetings during his current holiday: "It is entirely private".

Abdel Aziz, chair of the Egyptian Tourist Authority in Cairo, said the Blairs were enjoying a packed but relaxed break.

He said: "Today they travelled around the pyramids and Sphinx area."

Foot-and-mouth

The visit will be a huge boost to the country's tourism industry, according to the Egyptian embassy in London.

Samia Khafaga, director of the embassy's tourist office, said: "It is a very good advert for the country.

"To have such a dignitary visit our country is very effective for tourism."

It is reported that the Blair family flew to Cairo on Wednesday on the same plane carrying several journalists covering an OPEC summit that begins there Friday.

The trip to warmer foreign shores is nothing new for Tony Blair, whose first UK holiday as prime minister didn't happen until August 2001.

Tony and Cherie Blair listen to a guide
A guide has the Blairs' attention
That decision was announced as a show of support for the beleaguered British tourist industry in the wake of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The family, including baby Leo, have tended to enjoy summer holidays in Italy and France.

But two years ago Mr Blair hit the headlines when he reportedly rescued a Danish man in difficulties in the sea during a holiday to the Seychelles.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sarah Lockett
"Downing Street is stressing it's strictly a private visit"
See also:

20 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Blairs fly to France
27 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country Profile: Egypt
04 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Home and away for Blairs
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