Mahir, Ahmad (1935–)

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MAHIR, AHMAD (1935–)

Egyptian politician and diplomat, born in 1935. In 1957, Ahmad Mahir joined the Egyptian foreign ministry. Between 1958 and 1970 he was assistant secretary in the Egyptian embassies at Paris and Zurich. Between 1971 and 1974 he was counselor for security affairs to the presidency of the Egyptian Republic. The following year he became bureau chief of community affairs in the Egyptian foreign ministry. Between 1978 and 1980 he was head of the cabinet of the foreign minister, Kamel Hassan Ali. In this capacity, he participated in the Camp David negotiations.

In 1980 he was named Egyptian ambassador to Portugal. Two years later, he filled the same position in Belgium. In September 1988 he was named Egyptian ambassador to Moscow, then, four years later, to Washington. As such, he participated in much negotiation, making him a known figure in the context of the Israeli-Arab peace process. On 15 May 2001, while directing the Arab and African aid fund of the Arab League, he was appointed foreign minister, replacing Amr Musa, who had just been elected secretary general of the League.

On 27 July 2001 Mahir undertook a European trip that led him to France and Italy as part of the efforts being made to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. He has continued to work toward mediation of relations between Israelis and Palestinians. In December 2003, while visiting Jerusalem in an attempt to improve strained ties between Egypt and Israel, he was shoved and heckled by Palestinian worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque, who objected to his visit to a holy site under Israeli occupation.

SEE ALSO Camp David Accords; League of Arab States; Musa, Amr Muhammad.