The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

Media Release

FA83 - 15 June 2004

Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner to Kenya

I have today announced the appointment of George Atkin as Australia's High Commissioner to the Republic of Kenya with concurrent accreditation to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Mr Atkin will also be Australia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).

Mr Atkin will replace Paul Comfort who has been High Commissioner since January2001. Mr Atkin is expected to take up his appointment in August 2004.

Australia and Kenya enjoy a warm and growing bilateral relationship, which includes constructive cooperation in the Commonwealth, the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation . Kenya is a leading country in Africa; it has played a strong and constructive mediation role in east African conflicts such as Sudan and Somalia and has participated in UN peacekeeping operations including in East Timor.

Australia's merchandise and services trade with Kenya and other east African countries is modest but growing, with increasing opportunities for the export of Australian educational services . Australian investment in east Africa's mining and oilsector, is significant and there is potential for quite substantial growth. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are also targeted countries under the Australian aid program. A significant number of Australians visit east Africa, particularly Kenya, each year.

Mr Atkin is a senior career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently Assistant Secretary, Pacific Islands Branch. He held the position of Assistant Secretary, Middle East and Africa Branch (2001-02) and, in addition to a range of earlier placements in the Department in Canberra, he has worked on secondment in the Office of National Assessments.

Overseas, Mr Atkin has served as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia with non-resident accreditation to Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen (1998-00); and Deputy High Commissioner in Port Moresby (1995-97). He has also served in Jakarta, Algiers, Kuala Lumpur and Nauru.

Mr Atkin was educated at St Ignatius College, Riverview, Sydney, and the University of New England, Armidale. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in History. Mr Atkin is married with four children.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 - Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555


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