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Egypt foreign minister next Arab League Chief

News18

Updated: May 16, 2011, 2:45 PM IST
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Egypt foreign minister next Arab League Chief
Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Al-Arabi to replace Amr Moussa as Arab League head.

Tehran: Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Al-Arabi was elected as Arab League Chief after last minute diplomacy left him as the only candidate in the race. Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, was head of the Arab League for 10 years.

Egypt changed its candidate for head of the 22-member Arab organization at the last minute on Sunday, backing Nabil Al-Arabi, who was quickly elected. Al-Arabi replaces Amr Moussa, who has resigned to run for the office of president in Egypt.

"This is the toughest assignment I will have," Al-Arabi said in an acceptance speech that was broadcast live on television. Egypt's state news agency announced the change in candidate and, shortly after, Qatar's Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, a former secretary-general of the six-nation Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, announced his withdrawal.

Egypt had fielded a career diplomat - Mostafa el-Fekki - a former member of parliament for the former president's ruling party, although he quit his post during the 18-day uprising that led to president Hosni Mubarak being pushed out of power on February 11.

Egypt then switched its candidate to Al-Arabi, a former judge at the International Court of Justice and previously Egypt's representative at the United Nations.

Al-Arabi, appointed foreign minister after Mubarak was ousted, has carved a fresh diplomatic track for Egypt since taking over the ministry. He has been a tougher critic of Israel, more supportive of Palestinians and has offered an opening to Iran.

First Published: May 16, 2011, 2:45 PM IST
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