President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih awarded the Most Distinguished Foreign Service Medal to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Khaleel, and the Foreign Secretary, Ahmed Latheef, at an official ceremony held on Monday at the President’s Office.

The President conferred a medal, a plaque, and a certificate to the recipients as the Most Distinguished Foreign Service Medal. These two individuals are stepping down after serving an extensive period in the Foreign Service.

Ahmed Khaleel, awarded the Most Distinguished Foreign Service Medal, has served in the Foreign Service for more than 41 years and is one of the few people who has continuously held many positions in the field, from the most ordinary to the highest posts.

Ahmed Khaleel enlisted in the Maldivian Foreign Service on December 22, 1981. Initially, he worked for the Department of Immigration and Emigration as the English Secretary. He spent most of his career working for the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Maldives to the United Nations and worked there in New York for more than 17 years. Ahmed Khaleel also served as the Ambassador of the Maldives to Japan for seven years. He was then appointed as the Secretary, Bilateral at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 3, 2016, and became the current Minister of State for Foreign Affairs on November 22, 2018. During the four years and eleven months since he assumed the position, he has accomplished plenty and elevated the Maldives to new heights.

Foreign Secretary Ahmed Latheef, awarded the Most Distinguished Foreign Service Medal, began his service in the foreign service of the Maldives on November 26, 1981. He started his career as an Assistant Undersecretary at the then Ministry of External Affairs. Ahmed Latheef spent many years bolstering the Maldives' ties with other nations, international organisations, and, in particular, regional groups like the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) throughout his tenure in the Foreign Service. Ahmed Latheef, hence, had a significant role in creating SAARC. In addition, he also served as the Maldives’ Director of the SAARC Secretariat and participated in various aspects of the SAARC Summit held in the Maldives.

Moreover, Ahmed Latheef has held the posts of Director General, Assistant Executive Director, and Executive Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2004, a Resident Mission of the Maldives was established in New Delhi, India, during which Ahmed Latheef played a prominent role as Deputy High Commissioner of the High Commission. He was also the first Ambassador appointed to China from the Maldives and served as the Maldivian Ambassador to Germany.

The President decided to confer the Most Distinguished Foreign Service Medal on these two individuals in recognition of their efforts to uphold the nation's highest interests, strengthen ties between the Maldives and other countries and international organisations, and acknowledge their role in the assistance and cooperation received by various associations and organisations in the Maldives, as well as the foreign service-related assistance they gave to the citizens of the Maldives and the work they do to develop the foreign service in the country further.