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Senator Mitchell delivers special talk at AUS
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah and President of American University of Sharjah (AUS), renowned American politician, attorney and statesman, Senator George John Mitchell delivered a special talk to students, distinguished guests and university officials today. The Senator, a former US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, reflected on his time in the Middle East during a lively and varied speech about his peace negotiations in the region and Northern Ireland. Prior to the lecture, the Sharjah Ruler met with Senator Mitchell at his office on campus.
Speaking to an audience of students, educators and government officials, the Senator, Partner and Chairman Emeritus of DLA Piper, discussed world affairs with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa and touched on the challenges US President Barack Obama faces in his second term. He also reflected on his time as US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace. Senator Mitchell was accompanied by Anthony Angel, co-Chairman of DLA Piper, and Abdul Aziz Al-Yaqout, Regional Managing Partner at DLA Piper in the Middle East.
"It is an honour to speak at American University of Sharjah, an institution that is doing so much to provide quality education to students from more than 80 countries, while at the same time making a valuable contribution to the stability and prosperity of the Middle East."
"Although this region faces great challenges, it also has great opportunities in the 21st century. Institutions like American University of Sharjah will be essential to the provision of knowledge and skills so necessary to meet these challenges and grasp the opportunities." he added.
The Senator, acclaimed for his success in sealing a peace deal in Northern Ireland as US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland (1995-2001), was appointed US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace by President Obama on his second day in office and served in the role from January 2009 to May 2011. Following the Senator's departure, President Obama praised his commitment to the Middle East. "George Mitchell has worked as a tireless advocate for peace as the US special envoy for the Middle East," he said. "He leaves behind a proud legacy of dedicated public service and the country owes him a debt of gratitude for his extraordinary commitment," he added.
Senator Mitchell, who has spent a significant amount of time in the region, continues to assert the importance of comprehensive peace in the region, including the Israeli-Palestine agreement on a two-state solution.
"We are honored to welcome Senator George Mitchell to our campus and are, indeed, very grateful that he has taken the time out from his busy schedule to address our students and faculty," said Dr. Thomas Hochstettler, Acting Chancellor of AUS. "Senator Mitchell has a had truly distinguished career both in politics and business and his talk today provided tremendous insight into the mechanics of international diplomacy and peace negotiation. I am quite certain our students benefitted greatly from his comments."
Under Senator Mitchell's stewardship, the Good Friday Agreement, a historical accord ending decades of conflict, was agreed to by the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom and the political parties of Northern Ireland. The Senator received numerous awards and honors for his service in Northern Ireland including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given by the US Government; the Philadelphia Liberty Medal; the Truman Institute Peace Prize; and the United Nations (UNESCO) Peace Prize.
Prior to his work in Northern Ireland, Senator Mitchell led a distinguished career in public service. He was appointed to the United States Senate in 1980 to complete the unexpired term of Senator Edmund S. Muskie, who resigned to become Secretary of State. He was elected to a full term in the Senate in 1982 in a stunning come-from-behind victory. After trailing in public opinion polls by 36 points, he rallied to win the election, receiving 61 per cent of the votes cast. Senator Mitchell went on to an illustrious career in the Senate spanning 15 years.
In 1988, he was reelected with 81 per cent of the vote, the largest margin in the history of the state of Maine. He left the Senate in 1995 as the Senate majority leader, a position he had held since January 1989. Senator Mitchell enjoyed bipartisan respect during his tenure. It has been said "there is not a man, woman or child in the Capitol who does not trust George Mitchell." For six consecutive years he was voted "the most respected member" of the Senate by a bipartisan group of senior congressional aides.
In 2008, Time magazine named Senator Mitchell as one of the 100 most influential persons in the world. He serves on the board of several international companies and is the author of four books: Men of Zeal; World on Fire; Not for America Alone: the Triumph of Democracy and The Fall of Communism; and Making Peace.
Senator Mitchell's speech today follows in a long list of leading figures to speak at AUS. In May, Dr. Thomas Sargent, 2011 Nobel Prize winner in economics, one of the 20 most-cited economists in the world and the Guru of Rational Expectations, inaugurated the university's annual Nobel Laureate Lecture Series. Prior to that, eminent Nigerian author and playwright Wole Soyinka, awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1986, had delivered a lecture on the importance of public intellectuals in society.