U.S. Envoy "Thrilled to Return to Qatar"
Joseph Evan LeBaron was sworn in as the new U.S. Ambassador to Qatar on July 18 at a ceremony in Portland, Oregon. LeBaron said that he and his wife Ellie were "thrilled at the chance" to return to Doha, where they began their diplomatic career 28 years ago.
Six Qatari students studying in the area welcomed Ambassador and Mrs. LeBaron upon their arrival in Portland.
In his remarks at the swearing-in ceremony, Ambassador LeBaron noted that Qatar surely looks very different than it did almost three decades ago, but added that he was sure one thing had not changed: "that is the Qatari people themselves – their warmth and generosity." LeBaron noted that Qatar had provided more than 100 million dollars to help Americans rebuild their homes after Hurricane Katrina and that Qatar is now home to more than 10,000 Americans.
While in Portland, the new Ambassador met with several Oregon business groups to discuss ways to expand trade ties between Qatar and the United States. He also met with media representatives, student groups, and humanitarian organizations such as Mercy Corps to talk about ways to deepen and broaden the strong relationship between Qatar and the United States.
In keeping with LeBaron's emphasis on the importance and value of U.S. education during his visit to Portland, the swearing-in ceremony took place at Portland State University, which was also symbolically important because nearly 250 Qataris have graduated from there, including senior officials of the Qatari Government. LeBaron and his wife, Ellie, are also both graduates of Portland State.
The ceremony is believed to be the first time that a career diplomat has been sworn in as an ambassador in a public ceremony held in the United States, but outside Washington, D.C.
A fluent Arabic speaker, Ambassador LeBaron earned a doctorate in Middle East Studies from Princeton University. He also studied at the University of Khartoum and the American University of Beirut, and wrote a book on Sudan. LeBaron has served as U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania, as Consul General in Dubai, and at the U.S. Embassies in Jordan, Bahrain, and Turkey.