June 19, 2011 / 3:05 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Egypt appoints new foreign minister

* Mohammed el-Orabi is former ambassador to Berlin

* Predecessor improved ties with Iran

(Adds detail, background on regional ties)

CAIRO, June 19 (Reuters) - Egypt appointed a new foreign minister on Sunday to replace Nabil Elaraby, who was picked as the new Arab League chief last month, a cabinet official said.

"We have named our former ambassador in Berlin, Mohammed el-Orabi, as the new foreign minister," the official told Reuters. The government confirmed the appointment in a statement.

El-Orabi was Egypt's deputy foreign minister for economic affairs and previously served in embassies in Kuwait, London and Washington, according to Egypt's state news agency.

Elaraby was made foreign minister in a cabinet reshuffle in early March. He takes over at the Arab League from Amr Moussa, who led the 22-nation Cairo-based body for 10 years.

Since veteran leader Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February, the army-backed interim government has upheld an alliance with the United States and Israel but sought to calm tensions with regional rival Iran.

The improvement in relations with Tehran has alarmed Gulf Arab states which relied on Mubarak's support in their disputes with Iran.

Elaraby said on June 13 that Iran must not meddle in the internal affairs of Gulf states, saying Egypt considered the internal security of fellow Arab countries a "red line". (Reporting by Nadia el-Gowely and Yasmine Saleh; writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Andrew Roche)

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