WASHINGTON, June 14 (KUNA) -- US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Benaim said Kuwait's outgoing ambassador to the US Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah, who served as Ambassador for 21 years under four US presidents, has been a "champion of people in need".
Benaim made the remark during a farewell reception held on Monday evening in honor of the ambassador and his wife Rima Al-Sabah, which was attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, together with several other US officials and congressmen.
The reception was held by Saudi Ambassador to the US Princess Reema bin Bandar Al-Saud and Qatari Ambassador to the US Sheikh Meshal Al-Thani.
"He stood for genuinely shared values between ourselves and between our countries," Benaim said "And always, always, for all this time, you've been a champion of people in need."
He added that Sheikh Salem leaves behind "a monumental legacy" and "incredibly strong relations between the United States and Kuwait; diplomatic, military and people to people."
The US official noted that Sheikh Salem and Rima Al-Sabah, who is also a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, "are really extraordinary legendary hosts. But just as important, you are extraordinary humanitarians who bring people together to get things done on behalf of people in need, and we've seen that again and again and again for refugees and others around the world."
In honor of both, the Saudi and Qatari ambassadors announced that they are presenting 21 benches placed across the nation's capital carrying their names for leaving "their mark in the United States of America for 21 years."
Speaking during the farewell event, Princess Reema said, "Today is a farewell both to Sheikh Salem and Rima Al-Sabah after two decades of setting the standard for humanitarian leadership and not just bringing critical attention to global needs, but also women's health, education for young girls and the climate crisis."
She added that for Rima Al-Sabah, "It wasn't just enough to elevate awareness and promote understanding, she's one of those rare individuals that you know, always takes the extra mile but in her case, it was an extra hundreds of miles. She brought communities and decision makers together."
She continued that Sheikh Salem "shouldered the responsibility" along with Rima Al-Sabah "to secure the funding to address and contribute and to find real concrete solutions to the world's most pressing changes."
For his part, Qatar's Ambassador to the US Sheikh Meshal said that Sheikh Salem "has played a fundamental and vital role at every step in the cultivation of the extraordinary partnership between the US and Kuwait that exists today."
"Serving as Ambassador through the terms of four US presidents, he has navigated enormous political changes," he added. "He has not only kept the partnerships strong but deepened them in so many ways."
He continued that Sheikh Salem alongside his wife Rima have "embraced the United States and the city of Washington, going above and beyond, and advanced a variety of philanthropic causes."
"Sheikh Salem has been a stellar representative of Kuwait's values, committed to reconciliation and dialogue, working tirelessly to serve those in need and advance the cause of peace," he remarked.
For his part, Sheikh Salem said, "It has been an absolute honor and an incredible privilege for Rima and myself to represent Kuwait and to live and work among you for the past 21 years."
He affirmed, "The Kuwait-US relationship is today stronger than it's ever been. It's a relationship built on a strategic alliance, on a shared vision and mutual respect."
"We remain forever grateful for all the experiences and opportunities this city and this beautiful country has given us," he noted.
He also thanked everyone who has made their philanthropic work possible, saying "thank you for your open doors to our open hearts and for you giving us the opportunity to share with you a piece of our beloved Kuwait."
The reception was attended by senior administration officials, congressmen and dignitaries, including Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Bob Menendez, ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Jim Risch and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Bruce Reed, Deputy National Security Adviser to the Vice President Philip Gordon, Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking and World Bank President David Malpass were also present at the event. (end)