THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade will once again welcome Diplomats who are accredited to Jamaica as it hosts its annual diplomatic Week from February 3 to 8.
Speaking at a press briefing yesterday at the ministry's New Kingston offices, portfolio minister, Senator AJ Nicholson said the aim of Diplomatic Week is four-fold and of equal importance.
"It aims to update heads of mission on Government policy touching on foreign trade and external affairs; to highlight the work and service of diplomats and their contribution to the cordial relations that exist between Jamaican and other countries; to facilitate deeper bilateral relations on issues of mutual interest; and to promote cultural exchange and mutual understanding," the minister explained.
Some 25 non-resident heads of mission will arrive in the island this week for the activities, 11 of whom have been newly appointed. Currently there are 28 resident heads of mission, including two at the level of chargé d'affaires.
The first order of business on Monday will be for the new heads of mission, who are resident in foreign capitals, to present copy Letters of Credence to the minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade. Later that day, they will present the original letters to Governor General Sir Patrick Allen.
"This twin exercise is of real importance and is placed as the first order of business, as it is only upon accreditation that these heads of mission can officially participate in Jamaica's Diplomatic Week," Senator Nicholson said.
The 11 newly appointed non-resident heads of mission are from Portugal, Uruguay, Malaysia, Republic of South Korea, Indonesia, Zambia, the Netherlands, Norway, Bulgaria, Austria and Turkey.
A service of thanksgiving at the Swallowfield Chapel, St Andrew, on Sunday will signal the start of Diplomatic Week.
On Monday, the diplomats will be exposed to a showcase of Jamaican culture and international cuisine at a cultural evening at the Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston.
On Tuesday, they will be addressed by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Senator Nicholson at the Office of the Prime Minister.
On Wednesday, the diplomats will be addressed by the ministers of finance and planning; national security; and science, technology, energy and mining.
A black tie reception and diplomatic dinner will be hosted by Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen on Thursday at King's House.
The week culminates on Friday with the diplomats visiting some of the country's heritage sites and museums.