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Prof. Shirley Begins New Tenure as Jamaica’s Envoy to Washington

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JIS Washington (July 9, 2004)

Professor Gordon Shirley, former head of the Mona School of Business at the University of the West Indies, assumed office on Wednesday (July 7) as Jamaica’s new Ambassador to the United States (US) as well as the country’s Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States.

Ambassador Shirley, who has had a distinguished career in the private sector as well as in academia, comes to Washington after a tenure at the university where he was recognized for instituting innovative approaches aimed at increasing the competitiveness of local businesses, as these entities sought to take advantage of opportunities in an emerging globalized environment.

Arriving in Washington late last night from Kingston, Professor Shirley was met at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport by a large delegation of officials representing both the Jamaican and United States governments. The group included the Deputy Chief-of-Mission at the Embassy of Jamaica, E. Courtenay Rattray; Jamaica’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States, Delrose Montague; Marsha Barnes, Director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs at the United States Department of State; and Daniel O’Connor, the Jamaica Desk officer at the State Department.

The ambassador, who was enthusiastically welcomed by the Jamaican staff, acknowledged the US authorities for the warm reception accorded him on arrival, which included a strong and visible security detail from both the State of Maryland and the Federal government, as the new envoy and his party departed the airport for the 40-minute drive into Washington.

Prior to his arrival, a senior State Department official told JIS News that the US government viewed Ambassador Shirley’s appointment as another “clear indication of the importance that Jamaica places on its relationship with the United States, and follows a long tradition of truly outstanding ambassadors who have served in the United States. The naming of a former Deputy Prime Minister (Seymour Mullings) and long-serving government minister to Washington indeed underscores this reality.”

Notwithstanding his arrival late Wednesday, Ambassador Shirley held consultations with senior diplomatic staff throughout the day on Thursday (July 8). He reiterated his commitment to effectively and vigorously representing Jamaica’s interests, not only on the bi-lateral and multi-lateral levels, in the traditional trade relations and political spheres, but also to facilitate tangible economic activity through the promotion of greater foreign direct investment, aimed at increasing employment for Jamaicans and aiding the country’s overall development.

He also repeated his pledge to harness the energies and creativity of the Jamaican community in the United States in the development of Jamaica, citing his interest in encouraging economic partnerships between Jamaican entrepreneurs in the US and their counterparts in the island.

Subsequent to the official presentation of his credentials to the President of the United States, George W. Bush and to Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, Ambassador Shirley will begin his representational duties in earnest with several scheduled meetings with US government officials and congressional representatives, the leadership of the Organization of American States, CARICOM ambassadors in Washington, US economic and investment interests, as well as the leadership of Jamaican organizations in the US.

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