Manama: The new American ambassador to Bahrain William Roebuck said that the US greatly held its relationship with Bahrain in high esteem and pledged to nurture the friendship further and to reinforce relations and cooperation at all levels.

“The United States values greatly its relationship with Bahrain,” Roebuck said. “I am committed to building upon our vital partnership with the Kingdom and to strengthening the special American-Bahraini friendship based on mutual respect and our long history of consultation and cooperation,” the ambassador said in a speech to guests aboard the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson on Wednesday evening.

The ambassador, in his first public appearance since his appointment in Bahrain, and Vice Admiral John W. Miller, Commander, US Naval Forces Central Command, co-hosted the reception.

“The friendship has endured in the form of our defense cooperation and security partnerships, the US- Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, and the hundreds upon hundreds of people-to-people exchanges that have linked Bahrainis and Americans to one another on a personal and human level,” the ambassador said.

“I look forward to nurturing our friendship further during my time in Bahrain and continuing to build and strengthen our many historic partnerships,” he said, quoted by Bahrain News Agency (BNA).

Prior to his nomination, Roebuck was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in January 2013 and appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Maghreb Affairs that same month; he assumed additional responsibility for Egypt Affairs in January 2014.

He served as Chargé d’Affaires in Tripoli for six months from January to June 2013, earning the Ryan C. Crocker Award for Outstanding Leadership in Expeditionary Diplomacy for this assignment later that year.

From September 2010 until December 2012, he served as Director for the Office of Maghreb Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Roebuck served as Deputy Political Counselor at the US embassy in Baghdad from July 2009 to August 2010, covering Iraq’s external relations and leading the Embassy’s and the resident international community’s efforts to support the critical March 2010 national elections.

Roebuck served as the Deputy Office Director for Arabian Peninsula Affairs from 2007 to 2009 focusing on strengthening relations with key Gulf allies and bolstering counter-terrorism cooperation.

From 2004-2007, he served as the Political Counselor at the US embassy in Damascus. In his last year of that assignment, Roebuck served as the acting Deputy Chief of Mission. Prior to his assignment in Syria, he covered political issues in the Gaza Strip, while assigned to the US embassy in Tel Aviv from 2000 to 2003.

In preparation for his work in Gaza, Roebuck studied Arabic from 1998-2000 at the Foreign Service Institute in Washington and at the FSI language school in Tunis. He served in Washington as staff assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs from 1997-98.

Roebuck joined the Department of State in 1992, serving initially as a consular officer in Kingston, Jamaica (1992-94), and subsequently as a political officer at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem (1995-1997). Prior to joining the State Department, Roebuck worked as an English teacher and school administrator in Taif, Saudi Arabia from 1982-87. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cote d’Ivoire from 1978-81, teaching English in a small coastal town.

Roebuck, a North Carolina native, speaks French and Arabic. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English literature from Wake Forest University in 1978 and 1981, and his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1992.