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Personality Spotlight;NEWLN:Hosni Mubarak: Egyptian president

Hosni Mubarak, who took over as Egypt's third president shortly after Anwar Sadat was assassinated in October 1981, has continued the slain leader's policies of peace with Israel and close cooperation with the United States.

Mubarak, Sadat's vice president, was nominated as his country's chief executive Oct. 7 -- the day after the assassination -- and officially took office Oct. 13 following a nationwide referendum.

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Mubarak was commander of the air force during the 1973 Middle East war and was credited with Egypt's initial victories by organizing a surprise attack by 200 warplanes on Israeli positions in the Sinai desert.

Sadat, who had been a close friend of Mubarak, named him vice president in April 1975. Sadat then entrusted Mubarak with delicate missions and gave him some presidential authority.

'I learn from President Sadat, whose knowledge and experience is like a university,' Mubarak once said. 'I am a human who likes to do his work perfectly and faithfully. My life is a series of surprises.

'Whenever I get settled in a job and feel I am doing something important in it and look forward to completing what I want to do, fate takes me to another job,' he said.

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Unlike Sadat, Mubarak is not a member of the junta of 'free officers' who overthrew Egypt's monarchy in July 1952.

Before becoming president, Mubarak often served as chairman at Cabinet meetings and was secretary-general of Sadat's National Democratic Party.

Born May 4, 1928, Mubarak enrolled at the Egyptian Military Academy in 1947 at age 19 and, by skipping vacations, graduated in two years -- a year ahead of schedule. He then took a two-year course at the Air Academy, qualifying as a pilot on Western-made fighter planes like Britain's wartime Spitfire.

He was sent to the Soviet Union afterward and learned to fly such heavy bombers as the Il-28s and Tu-16s. He also studied at the Soviet Union's elite military training establishment, the Frunze General Staff Academy in Moscow.

On his return to Egypt, he was appointed commander of an air force base until 1967 when he was promoted to commander of the Air Academy. He was made chief of staff of the air force two years later and elevated to air force commander in 1972.

In these posts, he reorganized the air force after the disastrous 1967 war with Israel and was one of the architects of Egypt's initial victories in the October 1973 Middle East war.

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Sadat promoted Mubarak to lieutenant general in 1973 and awarded him the Sinai Star, Egypt's highest honor, for his accomplishments in the October war.

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