A week ago, I had this excellent opportunity to meet Ambassador Thomas Pickering. Ambassador Pickering’s diplomatic career includes four decades; he has served as the US Ambassador to Russia, India, United Nations, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and Jordan. He holds the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service.
I have met with diplomats in the past, but not someone as courteous as Ambassador Pickering. Ambassador Pickering is a knowledge reservoir to the extent that I thought he probably knows about foreign nations better than anybody else in the United States.
He also took me by surprise with his conversation on the houseboats and cuisine of Kerala, the state I am originally from, in India. After a ten minutes’ discussion, I could understand that what we, the public, know about political India and bilateral relationships are quite less.
We civilians look up to the political leadership of the country, state, county, city, etc. But it is diplomats who work hard in foreign countries to make sure that bilateral relationships are help up high. They do not have any margin of error as any such mistakes will affect relationships between countries.
We had forum discussions about the situation in Syria, Turkey, Russia, North Korea and China. A significant concern aired was about the changing economic conditions in the Middle East; if the fluctuating oil prices would cause economic instability in the region. Ensuing discussions revealed that Middle East countries like UAE, Oman, Qatar are expected to remain economically stable, and businesses should have no reasons to worry.
Along with Ambassador Pickering, I had the opportunity to converse with Dr.Jim Walsh. Dr. Walsh is a senior research associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Security Studies Program (SSP).
Dr. Walsh’s research and writings focus on international security, and in particular, topics involving nuclear weapons, the Middle East, and East Asia. He is one among a handful of Americans who has traveled to both Iran and North Korea for talks with officials about nuclear issues.
I could also interact with successful business people and professors from around the world. One of the gentlemen who is a leading professor of American History takes deals with student exchange program from the US to India. Many told me about their love for Indian culture and cuisine.
The networking sessions that evening turned out to be excellent, and with many of my questions were answered, I left the dinner, a happy man.
I want to conclude this by thanking the service of all the diplomats who represent different countries and work hard to make sure that everyone is protected.