BAGHDAD, IRAQ.- John Limbert, the U.S. ambassador to Mauritania, arrived in Iraq and offered assistance to restore the Iraqi National Museum and recover hundreds of stolen antiques. Limbert called for a halt to trading in Mesopotamian art and historic objects to eliminate the potential market for thieves.
He stated: “It is important to stop the trade. This is stolen property. It belongs to the Iraqi people." John Limbert speaks Arabic and Persian and studied a doctorate in Middle Eastern studies and history at Harvard University.
Limbert ispart of the United States interim administration that is led by retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner. He spent almost two hours with museum officials and touring it. Limbert said that many U.S. government agencies, academic centers and other institutions have made many offers and pledged that the museum will be better than before the war.
Muayad Damerji, an adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Culture for Archaeological Affairs, said an inventory of the stolen objects would be published and circulated to art dealers, galleries and international organizations such as UNESCO and Interpol.
Prior to his ambassadorial assignment, he was Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism in the U.S. State Department. Earlier, he was a member of the State Department’s Senior Seminar (1997-98); Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Conakry, Guinea (1994-97); and Director of Orientation at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute in Washington (1992-94).
A career Foreign Service Officer since 1973, Ambassador Limbert’s overseas experience includes tours in Algeria, Djibouti, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. From 1981-84 he taught Political Science at the U.S. Naval Academy, and in 1991-92 he was a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs.
Born in Washington, D.C. and a resident of Stockbridge, Vermont since 1980, Ambassador Limbert graduated from the D.C. public schools and holds his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Harvard University, the last in History and Middle Eastern Studies. Before joining the Foreign Service, he taught in Iran, both as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1964-66) and as an English instructor at Shiraz University (1969-72). He has written numerous articles on Middle Eastern subjects and has authored Iran: At War with History (Westview Press, 1987).
Ambassador Limbert holds the Department of State’s Meritorious Honor Award, Superior Honor Award, and Award for Valor, the last received after fourteen months as a hostage in Iran. He also holds the American Foreign Service Association’s Rivkin Award for creative dissent. His foreign languages are Persian, Arabic, and French. He is married and has a son and a daughter.