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DIPLOMATIC BRIEFS

US Ambassador Vallee wraps up his term

OUTGOING Ambassador of the United States to the Slovak Republic, Rodolphe Vallee, has been awarded the Order of the White Double Cross, Second Class.

Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič bestowed the title upon Vallee on November 7 for his significant personal contributions to the development of friendly relations and cooperation between Slovakia and the United States.

"A part of my heart will stay in Slovakia," Vallee said. "During my trips outside Bratislava I often say that I am not only the US Ambassador to Slovakia, but also an ambassador of the Slovak people."

Vallee has been the ambassador to Slovakia since August 2005. The term of U.S. ambassadors to Slovakia is usually three years, but Vallee said he wanted to leave his post earlier to be closer to his oldest son, among other reasons.

"Apart from this, the US President appointed a Slovak-American as my successor, who will continue in maintaining good relations between Slovakia and the United States," Vallee told SITA.

Vincent Obsitnik, a businessman with roots in eastern Slovakia, has been named the next ambassador.

Gašparovič said Vallee's work contributed to improved relations between the two countries. He always considered the information Vallee sent to the United States to be objective and aimed at building cooperation.

He praised Vallee for not just staying in Bratislava, but travelling around the whole country to form an objective impression of Slovakia.

When asked what he liked best about Slovakia, Vallee said that he was impressed by the Slovak countryside.

"I will never forget the sunrise in the Low Tatras," he said.

Vallee plans to leave for home on December 5. Obsitnik may arrive in Slovakia before Christmas.

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