Izzat Zakaria assumed the position of second secretary on March 2, replacing Nadiah Zulkifli, who departed the post March 1. Zakaria previously served as a research officer with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Miguel Ntutumu Evuna Andeme became ambassador of Equatorial Guinea to the United States on Feb. 23, 2015. Prior to his current appointment, Ambassador Evuna Andeme was the general director of Cabinet at the Department of Missions in the Presidency of the Republic in Malabo, where his responsibilities included preparing statements, speeches and correspondence for the president. Previously, he was director general for administrative affairs for the presidency and a procurement and contracts advisor for Hess Corp. in Equatorial Guinea. Ambassador Evuna Andeme received a bachelor’s degree in international studies from La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 2003. While at La Roche, he co-founded the International Forum of African Students.
Kadyr M. Toktogulov became ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States on Feb. 23, 2015, having most recently served as press secretary to Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev since December 2011. Before joining the Office of the President, Ambassador Toktogulov was chief of the Information Policy Department at the Office of the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, in charge of coordinating media relations for the prime minister, his deputies and key ministries of the government. He also coordinated media coverage of the government of the Kyrgyz Republic. Ambassador Toktogulov, who was born April 28, 1980, in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, has extensive experience in journalism, having worked as a correspondent for such news organizations as the Associated Press (2003-06) and Dow Jones Newswires and contributed stories to the Wall Street Journal (2006-11). He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek. He also studied as an exchange student at Ankara University in Turkey (1998-99) and at Ithaca College in New York (2001-02). In addition to Kyrgyz, he speaks fluent Russian, English and Turkish.
Luis Miguel Castilla Rubio became ambassador of Peru to the United States on Feb. 23, 2015, having previously served as minister of economy and finance of Peru from 2011 to 2014 under the administration of President Ollanta Humala. During his tenure, he implemented major reforms to attract foreign direct investment to Peru, spur economic growth, reduce poverty and foster economic and social development. He promoted a series of second-generation reforms in infrastructure public-private partnerships, civil service, fiscal rules, pension system, capital market development, financial inclusion, taxation, government procurement and state modernization, among others. During the past three years, Peru’s credit ratings were upgraded by all major credit rating agencies. Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Castilla held several positions at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, including deputy finance minister (2010-11) and chief of staff (2009). In addition, he has over 15 years of experience at multilateral development banks, including the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C., and the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America in Caracas, where he was chief economist and vice president of public policies and competitiveness (2006-09), acting vice president of development strategies (2005), director of economic research (2003-05) and country economist for Bolivia, Peru and Argentina (1996-2002). He has served as the editor of various publications and book chapters and has taught at Johns Hopkins University and the Universidad del Pacífico in Peru. Ambassador Castilla holds a bachelor’s with honors in economics from McGill University, as well as a master’s and a Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University. He speaks Spanish, English and intermediate French, and is a widow with two daughters.
Djerdj Matkovic became ambassador of Serbia to the United States on Feb. 23, 2015. Ambassador Matkovic, who entered the Foreign Service in 1981, previously served as deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Yugoslavia in Hungary, first counselor at the Embassy of Serbia in Washington, D.C., chief of protocol and director of the Department for North and South America at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and, most recently, as foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Born in Subotica in northern Serbia, Ambassador Matkovic to Belgrade in 1971, graduating from the Law Faculty of the University of Belgrade with a degree in international relations.
Pham Quang Vinh became ambassador of Vietnam to the United States on Feb. 23, 2015. He has also been accredited the title of senior ambassador, the highest rank for a Vietnamese career diplomat. From 2011 to 2014, Ambassador Vinh served as deputy minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of relations with countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, and as Vietnam’s senior official to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN SOM leader). From 2008 to 2011, he held the position of assistant minister of foreign affairs and Vietnam’s ASEAN SOM leader (2008-11), as well as deputy director general, then director general and Vietnam’s ASEAN SOM leader (2007-08). Much of the earlier years of Ambassador Vinh’s public service career was attached to the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Department of International Organizations, where he started off as a desk officer in 1980 before being promoted to assistant director general in 1994, and then deputy director general in 1995, the position that he held until the end of 2003. Ambassador Vinh was also posted twice to Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, first as an attaché from 1987 to 1990 and then as a minister counselor and deputy permanent representative from 1996 to 1999. His third posting was to the Embassy of Vietnam in Thailand as a minister counselor from 2003 to 2007. Ambassador Vinh graduated from the University of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi and earned a master’s degree in international relations from Canberra College of Advanced Education in Australia. He is married to Hoang Bich Lien and has two children.