- January 12, 2015
On January 12th, 2015, H.E. Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana represented Rwanda at the swearing in ceremony of Erica Barks-Ruggles, the new Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Rwanda at the United States Department of State. Led by Ambassador Susan Rice, the ceremony attracted many distinguished U.S. government officials including Russell D. Feingold, U.S. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes and DRC and Donald W. Koran, Former U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda; members of the diplomatic corps; and Barks-Ruggles’ family and friends.
In her remarks, Ambassador Rice welcomed Ambassador Mukantabana and thanked her for her service and representation of Rwanda to the United States. Speaking of her family’s visit to Rwanda, Ambassador Rice expressed her deep love and admiration for the country. She applauded the appointment of Barks-Ruggles and further highlighted her unique position to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Rwanda.
Tony Blinkin, the Deputy Secretary of State, who started his new assignment today, led the sworn-in Ambassador Barks-Ruggles. In his remarks, he echoed the sentiments of Ambassador Rice, and commended Rwanda for its major accomplishments. He highlighted areas of strong partnerships between Rwanda and United States and pledged full support to the new ambassador as she works to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
Ambassador Barks-Ruggles thanked President Obama for the trust bestowed upon her and vowed to strengthen existing relations between the United States and the Republic of Rwanda. She spoke highly of Rwanda, calling it a model in development, despite its tragic past. She also thanked Ambassador Susan Rice, who has been a friend and mentor, and many others, especially her husband Tony Ruggles and her family who have supported her through this journey.
Ambassador Barks-Ruggles is the first female Ambassador of the United States to Rwanda. A career diplomat, Ambassador Barks-Ruggles’ first overseas assignment came in 1992 when she was vice consul at the U.S. Consulate in Chennai (Madras), India. Since then, she has served in different capacities, including being a Deputy to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and serving as a Council General at the U.S. Embassy in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to Taylor Ruggles, also a career diplomat. Barks-Ruggles speaks French and Norwegian.
Rwanda and the United States have worked closely both as partners and friends since establishment of bilateral relations in 1962. Both countries have worked closely on a range of high priority bilateral, regional and global issues and continue to advance their mutually beneficial agenda and deepen their friendship.