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Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir assumes office as US ambassador to Malaysia


PETALING JAYA: US diplomat Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir has assumed office as her country's new ambassador to Malaysia.

She replaces Joseph Yun, who left in October after three years in the post.

The US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur announced her arrival in Malaysia with a video posted on its Facebook page Thursday.

In the one and a half minute clip, Lakhdhir greeted Malaysians with "Apa khabar (How are you?)" and spoke about her previous experience visiting the country in 1990, as well as her hopes and aspirations as ambassador.

Kamala Lakhdhir

“I first visited Malaysia in 1990, travelling by bus and train, and I’m very excited to live in such a beautiful and diverse country, with generous and warm people.

“As ambassador, my mission is to expand cooperation between our countries, whether in trade, environment, rule of law, education, public health or counter-terrorism.

“I urge Malaysians to visit the US, to meet Americans and build people-to-people understanding,” she said in her message.

Lakhdhir also expressed her excitement at being able to eat the “wonderful food of Malaysia again”, and asked Malaysians to recommend some local delicacies she should try.

“Please go to our embassy’s Facebook page and tell me what food to try first and where. I look forward to meeting you soon,” she added, signing off with the Malay phrase “Jumpa lagi (See you again)".

Lakhdhir, a career diplomat, was nominated for the post by outgoing US President Barack Obama in June last year.

She was born in Brooklyn, New York, to an Indian father and American mother, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College in 1986.

According to the US Embassy’s website, Lakhdhir joined the foreign service in 1991 and served in Riyadh from 1992 to 1994 and then Jakarta (1994-1996).

She then held several positions in Washington before being assigned to the US Embassy in Beijing from 2001 to 2005.

The ambassador-designate has also served as director of the Office of Maritime South-East Asia in the US State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which is responsible for managing the country’s relations with Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, and Brunei.

She received her Master’s degree from the National War College in 2007.
   

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