| DanialNorjidi |
A FAREWELL luncheon was held yesterday in honour of three outgoing ambassadors, which also saw the introduction of a new Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.
The luncheon at the Star Lodge Hotel in Jerudong was held in honour of Victor A Seleznev, Ambassador of the Russian Federation and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Daniel L Shields III, Ambassador of the United States of America and Zheng Xianglin, Ambassador of the People’s Re-public of China.
At the event, there were photo slide-shows of the three ambassadors’ expe-riences in the Sultanate, before they each gave speeches.
In his remarks, the US Ambassador said, “I really feel a sense of separation and sadness that we will be leaving behind so many dear friends.
“Our dean and our diplomatic corps here are really unique and extraordinary, and the friendship and cooperation between us are just unmatched.
“We really got to be friends with each other, almost like family.
“Looking at the photos, I saw some of the things we did together as a diplomatic corps. The Royal Regatta is something that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, and the fact that we all got together and rowed as a team is really a symbol of the friendship within the diplomatic corps.
“Looking back at the US-Brunei rela-tionship over the nearly four years that we have been here, I will always remember the highlights, such as when His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam visited Washington in March 2013 and met with President Obama at the Oval Office at the White House.
“The Brunei-US English Language En-richment Project for Asean has been ano-ther extraordinary programme through which Brunei and the US have worked together to try to help make Asean even more cohesive, and even stronger using the English language as a common means of strengthening Asean, and in the edu-cational world we’ve also had some major education fairs here and really tried to encourage Bruneians to study in the US.
“I’d like to thank all of you, and especially our dean, for your warm friendship,” he concluded.
He also shared that his next assignment will be at the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador Zheng Xianglin in his speech said, “My three years in Brunei have been quite a memorable ex-perience.
“I’ve been posted to many countries, but my emotional attachment to the diplomatic corps in Brunei is most unique…
“We are so close, we work together, take part in activities together such as the Royal Regatta, badminton and bowling.
“As you know, my and my wife’s English is not so good, so I would like to thank you all for your support and the help rendered to us.
“In my past three years in Brunei, I feel quite accomplished, especially last year when Brunei was the Asean chair, and as such a small country it successfully hosted so many important meetings and summits, and we also successfully received many high-level Chinese delegations.
“I think I got a lot of help from the diplo-matic corps.
“Last year I was also very blessed to be able to accompany His Majesty to China for the second State Visit, so the last three years have been quite fulfilling.
“Brunei is quite an impressive country for me, because of the beautiful natural scenery. I have been to Temburong, I belie-ve, more than 10 times already,” shared the envoy.
“I love the rainforest and everything, so the mountains and rivers of Brunei have left a lasting mark on my mind, and I be-lieve they will forever.
“Now I am leaving, but I will forever re-member Brunei.
“I will not forget the many friends I have made here, especially the members of the diplomatic corps. Please accept my best wishes.
“As our dear dean has mentioned, be-cause I have been working in the diplomatic life in one way or another for 40 years and now that I am about to retire… What I can promise for my family is a few years of peace ahead.
“I will spend more time in Beijing, and in Hawaii maybe, with my daughter.
“All the best, to all of you,” he added.
Russian Ambassador Seleznev, who is also the outgoing Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, in his remarks said, “The years in the Sultanate have been very interesting, challenging in a good way, and always plea-sant.
“Since the opening of the Russian Em-bassy almost five years ago we have seen a lot of development in the Russia-Brunei relations in different spheres – politics, eco-nomy, culture, sports…
“Of course, we wouldn’t have achieved all our goals without the most kind help and cooperation of the Bruneian govern-ment.”
“I feel very much honoured to be part of such a friendly and intelligent diplomatic community and I am extremely grateful to you, dear colleagues and friends,” he con-tinued.
“From the human and professional standpoints, it gave me great pleasure to communicate and work with you all.
“I will cherish the memories of my di-plomatic life here in the Abode of Peace in the years ahead.”
Ambassador Seleznev then introduced the new Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador of the Philippines Lt General (Rtd) Nestor Zipagan Ochoa, who also spoke at the luncheon.
He first expressed on behalf of the am-bassadors and high commissioners his sin-cerest gratitude to Ambassador Seleznev for his leadership and service as the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.
“Truly, His Excellency has been instru-mental in collectively connecting us with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and, consequently, with the Government of Brunei Darussalam, enabling us to strengthen our ties with our host country and allowing us to forge friendships with one another,” he said.
Addressing his fellow ambassadors and high commissioners, he added, “As the in-coming dean by virtue of precedence, I would like to ask for your continuing co-operation in all our programmes and ac-tivities.
“I know that, with your steadfast sup-port, the diplomatic corps will remain co-hesive and responsive as it is now.”