It is my great pleasure to welcome you to King’s House for this annual Dinner for the Diplomatic Corps. On each such occasion, it has always been a pleasure for me to receive the distinguished High Commissioners and Ambassadors, both those resident in Kingston and those based in other countries in the Region.

Like you, we look forward to this special occasion when we celebrate the bonds of friendship and cooperation that characterise relations between Jamaica and your respective countries. Many of the 162 countries with which Jamaica enjoys diplomatic relations are represented here this evening. We are ever mindful of the fact that diplomacy includes having to say both “Welcome” and “Good-bye” to Heads of Missions periodically. Since we last met in this manner, there have been both departures and arrivals.

We bade farewell to:
• Their Excellencies the High Commissioners for Botswana, and Trinidad and Tobago.
• The Ambassadors of Argentina, China, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Sudan.

We pause for a moment to remember, with high regard and affection, the distinguished late High Commissioner for St. Kitts and Nevis and former Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, His Excellency Dr. Cedric Harper, who passed away in August 2018.

Excellencies, I also pause here to express, on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica, our sincere condolence to the Republic of Ethiopia and the countries who lost nationals in the tragic aircraft crash this past weekend. We share your grief at this sad incident.

With the departure of those High Commissioners and Ambassadors, we have many new faces at our Diplomatic Dinner this evening. I have had the privilege of receiving sixteen (16) new Heads of Mission, including:

• The Resident High Commissioner for the Republic of South Africa.
• The Ambassadors of the People’s Republic of China, the United Mexican States, the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Republic of Chile.
• The Non-Resident High Commissioner for the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
• Non-Resident Ambassadors of the Czech Republic, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republics of Serbia, Ecuador, Ghana, and the State of Israel.
• Non-Resident Ambassadors of the Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and the Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See.

Earlier this week, I received eight (8) new Heads of Mission who presented their Letters of Credence. This evening, we again congratulate and warmly welcome the newly accredited High Commissioners for the Republic of Botswana, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Ambassadors of Malaysia, the Hellenic Republic (Greece); and the Republics of Korea, Kazakhstan, Portugal, and Turkey.

I extend special congratulations to the new Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, His Excellency Guy Sevrin, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium. I am confident, Ambassador, that the Corps stands to benefit greatly from your leadership in the months ahead.

The accreditation of each one of you as Head of Mission to Jamaica reflects the level of high esteem and mutual respect that our countries enjoy. We look forward to continue working with you to explore areas of cooperation.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Diplomatic Week is a time to reflect on the commonalities that underpin Jamaica’s ties with your countries. Undoubtedly, it is our common goals – shared ideals, values, and attitudes, and our unswerving commitment to global peace, security and development – that truly serve to shape our relations.

Jamaica is blessed to have a talented, robust, and vibrant Diplomatic Corps, and we are grateful. We work together in pursuit of mutually-agreed foreign policy goals.

Excellencies, Jamaica’s social and economic progress in the past year has not been accomplished by our national efforts alone, but by collaboration and partnerships from many of your countries complemented our own commitment and hard work. It is through your noble endeavours that together, we have established and continue to build and fortify shared pathways to sustainable development.

Each of us here this evening has the unique privilege and responsibility to serve our respective country – at the national and international levels, but more importantly through collaborative processes where we can make a much more significant and positive difference globally.

Excellencies, in closing my Remarks, I share the words of an African proverb:
“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”.
We in Jamaica certainly know much about going fast – even as fast as a lightning ‘Bolt’! This evening, I am pleased to say that we intend to go not only fast but also far, by going together in continued partnership with your respective countries.

Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Lady Allen and I convey once more our great pleasure and high consideration as we share your esteemed company over Dinner this evening. I wish to assure you of the continued support of my Staff, the Staff of the Foreign Ministry, and every Jamaican.

We trust that the time spent here, as well as the events of this Diplomatic Week will reaffirm our shared commitment to building on the tradition of excellent and enduring relations between Jamaica and your countries for many years to come.

I thank you.