July 29, 2003 - Idaho Statesman: Joe LaBaron heads to Mauritania as Ambassador with wife Turkey RPCV Ellie LaBaron

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: July 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: July 29, 2003 - Idaho Statesman: Joe LaBaron heads to Mauritania as Ambassador with wife Turkey RPCV Ellie LaBaron

By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - 10:16 am: Edit Post

Joe LaBaron heads to Mauritania as Ambassador with wife Turkey RPCV Ellie LaBaron

Read and comment on this story from the Idaho Statesman that Joe LaBaron is heading to Mauritania as Ambassador with his wife Turkey RPCV Ellie LaBaron.Joe LaBaron was in the Air Force, stationed at Incirlik Air Base, and she worked for a Turkish-American association in Adana after a stint in the Peace Corps. They´ve been married 30 years. Read the story at:

Former Idahoan takes his new seat as ambassador in Africa*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Former Idahoan takes his new seat as ambassador in Africa
Joe LeBaron

WASHINGTON — Nampa native Joe LeBaron is packing his bags for the umpteenth time, heading for his new job as U.S. ambassador to the northwest African nation of Mauritania.

In his 23 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, LeBaron and his wife, Elinor, have lived all over the world, mostly in Arab countries.

“You know what they say in the foreign service — three moves equal (the stress of) a fire,” LeBaron joked during an interview from his home in McLean, Va. “I´ve had a lot of fires.”

LeBaron studied Middle Eastern affairs, learned Arabic, Turkish, Persian and French, and worked in embassies and consulates preparing for this assignment, his first as an ambassador. The Senate confirmed his nomination April 11.

In his new job, LeBaron will represent President Bush and his policies in the Islamic country of 3 million people, help protect the safety of its American community, and advance commercial ties between the two countries.

At a time when many Muslims question U.S. motives, Mauritania is a steadfast partner of the United States, LeBaron said.

“It is a voice of moderation in Islamic and Arab League forums,” LeBaron said during his swearing-in ceremony July 17. “In fact, it is the only Islamic republic in the world to have diplomatic relations with Israel. It actively supports the United States in the war on terrorism.”

But Mauritania is not without excitement. In early June, soldiers staged an unsuccessful coup against President Maouya Sidi Ahmed Taya. Fighting took place at the presidential palace, which is across the street from the U.S. Embassy.

LeBaron, 55, said he isn´t worried about his safety.

“The embassy and the (employees) were very, very courageous and continued in their posts,” he said. “That really is very much a part of the foreign service tradition.

“You prepare, you train and you don´t want (violence) to happen, but you do all you can to be prepared when it does happen.”

LeBaron spent the first 14 years of his life in Nampa, and lived in Ontario, Ore., while going to high school.

His parents, Carlos and Truellen LeBaron, are deceased. His uncle, Carl Hoffman, and aunt, Faith Fastabend, still live in Nampa. His uncle, P.F. “Bud” Davis, lives in Boise and his stepfather, Lawrence McCracken, lives in Caldwell.

LeBaron´s wife, Ellie, grew up in The Dalles, Ore. They both graduated from Portland State University. But they had to go to Turkey to find each other. He was in the Air Force, stationed at Incirlik Air Base, and she worked for a Turkish-American association in Adana after a stint in the Peace Corps. They´ve been married 30 years.

“We determined that we lived a block from each other (in Portland) when we were going to school,” LeBaron said.

After his discharge from the military in 1974, the couple moved to Beirut to attend graduate school. Within a year, the Lebanese war broke out and they moved to Princeton, N.J., where LeBaron completed his doctorate in Near Eastern studies. From there, he worked at U.S embassies in Qatar, Jordan and Turkey, the U.S. consulate in Dubai, in northern Iraq at the end of the Gulf War and the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain.

Their daughter Petra, now 18, is named after one of their favorite ancient Jordanian cities.

For the past seven years, LeBaron has worked for the State Department in Washington, D.C., most recently in intelligence and research, a bureau handling economic analyses of foreign trends and events.

Edition Date: 07-29-2003

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