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Legal Expert Monroe Leigh Dies at 82

December 1, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Monroe Leigh, an authority on international law who advised the Kissinger-era State Department on how to end war between Egypt and Israel, has died of congestive heart failure in his local law office. He was 82.

Leigh, who died this week, practiced international law at the firm Steptoe & Johnson for much of his six-decade legal career, but he also worked for the government during periods of diplomatic tension.

From 1975 to 1977, Leigh was legal adviser to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger under President Ford. Leigh participated in the diplomacy of the period, which included the seizure by Cambodia’s radical Khmer Rouge government of the U.S. cargo ship Mayaguez and its crew off that Southeast Asian country’s coast.

During the Nixon presidency, Leigh also participated in Kissinger’s ``Shuttle Diplomacy″ in which the secretary flew back and forth among Jerusalem; Cairo, Egypt; Damascus, Syria; and other capitals to negotiate a cease-fire between the Arabs and Israel after the 1973 Middle East war.

Leigh’s career began in 1947, after graduation from the University of Virginia Law School. After a short stint at the Washington-based firm Covington & Burling, he took a post representing U.S. interests in NATO in 1951.

In 1959 he joined Steptoe & Johnson. After leaving the firm to work for Kissinger, he returned in 1977 and later led a team of lawyers that sought compensation from the Iranian government for the 1979 hostage crisis.

Until last year, he headed the American Bar Association’s task force on war crimes. He represented the organization at the Rome conference where the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court was forged.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Gallaher, and three children.

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