Egypt's ex-ambassador in Washington considered for Minister of State for Foreign Affairs position

Dina Ezzat , Monday 14 Mar 2011

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf is considering the advice of the newly-assigned Foreign Minister Nabil El-Arabi to assign a minister of state for foreign affairs

Nabil Fahmy
Nabil Fahmy

"When they met to discuss the appointment of El-Arabi as a foreign minister, it was El-Arabi who suggested that there should be a minister of state for foreign affairs," said a source from the foreign ministry.

According to the same source El-Arabi's argument for the matter was simple and straightforward: the assignment of a minister of state for foreign affairs would help with the amount of hard work required to properly re-position Egyptian diplomacy as a leading regional player.

Sharaf is also considering the assignment of a minister of state for foreign affairs "because he is actually considering the nomination of El-Arabi as a secretary-general of the Arab League," the source said.

This post will be vacant in mid-May when current secretary-general Amr Moussa ends his second five-year term.

El-Arabi was originally proposed by Moussa to former prime minister Ahmed Shafik as "an excellent candidate for the post".

Egypt had nominated former minister of state for parliamentary affairs Moufid Shehab for the job during the last days of former president Hosni Mubarak but the nomination was shrugged off by Arab states given Shehab's close association with notorious legal and constitutional amendments conducted by the Mubarak regime.

Judging by the "impressive diplomatic and legal achievements" of El-Arabi and by the good impression he made on Arab counterparts on Saturday as he headed the Egyptian delegation to the Arab League meeting on Libya, Sharaf seems willing to advance the nomination of the foreign minister for the Arab League post "before the end of this month," said the source.

The source added that Nabil Fahmi, a prominent Egyptian diplomat in his late fifties, is being considered for the job of minister of state for foreign affairs.

Fahmi is currently the dean of the American University in Cairo's (AUC) School of Public Affairs.

He last served as Egyptian Ambassador to Washington before he came back to Egypt and went on leave to take the job at AUC.

Fahmi has previously served as a political advisor to the foreign minister during the years when Moussa held the top diplomatic position.

The job of a minister of state for foreign affairs is not a permanent post in the Egyptian cabinet.

The last to have taken that job was Fayza Aboul-Nagga from 2001 to 2004 before she was assigned the to ministry of international planning.

Egypt's most famous and longest serving minister of state for foreign affairs is Boutros Boutros Ghali, a Copt who was never assigned the top diplomatic position.


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