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Egypt's New VP Prominent in Intelligence, Diplomacy

In this image taken from TV, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, shakes the hand of Omar Suleiman, who was sworn in as Vice President of Egypt, Jan 29, 2011

Egypt's new vice president, Omar Suleiman, has been a prominent figure in the country for years, serving as the nation's intelligence chief since 1993 and overseeing some of Egypt's most sensitive foreign policy issues.

Suleiman is a close confidant of President Hosni Mubarak and the first person the president has named to serve as his deputy since taking office 30 years ago.

Mr. Mubarak himself was vice president before taking over after the assassination of his predecessor Anwar Sadat.

Suleiman has earned international respect for his role as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and for work to curb Islamic extremism. In 2009, Foreign Policy magazine ranked him as one the most powerful intelligence chiefs in the Middle East.

Like Mr. Mubarak, Suleiman and Egypt's newly-appointed Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq have military backgrounds. Mr. Shafiq is a former air force commander and the outgoing civil aviation minister. Suleiman is an army lieutenant general.

View the slide show of anti-government protests in Egypt

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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