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Obama names US ambassadors to Afghanistan, Iraq

Obama names US ambassadors to Afghanistan, Iraq

President Barack Obama is naming a career military officer who once was the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan to be the next ambassador to the devastated country and tapped a veteran diplomat to be the new U.S. envoy in Iraq.
The White House said Wednesday that Obama had nominated Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, who served in Afghanistan twice, including an 18-month tour that ended in 2007 as commanding general, to be ambassador in Kabul, and Christopher Hill, a seasoned negotiator who led the U.S. team at nuclear disarmament talks during the Bush administration, to be ambassador in Baghdad.
He also named:
_Ivo Daalder, a former Clinton administration National Security Council official, to be ambassador to NATO.
_Alexander Vershbow, a former ambassador to Russia and South Korea, to be assistant secretary of defense for international security.
_Richard Verma, a lawyer and former Senate aide, to head the State Department's legal team.
"These extraordinarily accomplished individuals have served their country with great distinction, and they have each agreed to take on tough assignments," Obama said in a statement. "I am confident that they will work with a sense of purpose and pragmatism ... as we renew American diplomacy, strengthen our military and advance our values and interests around the world."
The picks for the two most prominent jobs announced Wednesday, Eikenberry and Hill, had been known well in advance. Obama, in fact, already had announced his choice of Hill to succeed Ryan Crocker as ambassador to Iraq.
The formal nominations set the stage for Senate confirmation hearings and eventual votes on their selections.
With his Afghanistan experience, Eikenberry knows the issues facing the troubled country and its players, including the challenge of a resurgent Taliban and the need to build up an Afghan army to take on that fight. He has warned repeatedly that the United States cannot win in Afghanistan and defeat terrorism elsewhere without doing something to stop al-Qaida fighters holed up in neighboring Pakistan.
Those issues are at the heart of a sweeping strategy review the Obama administration is conducting to define and reshape the U.S. missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama recently announced a plan to send 17,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan and is weighing a request by ground commanders to send more.
Obama is expected to announce the results of the Afghanistan review before traveling to Strasbourg, France, for a NATO summit in early April.
Hill is a career U.S. Foreign Service officer who before heading the U.S. negotiating team with North Korea had served as ambassador to Poland and Macedonia and as a negotiator in the crises in Bosnia and Kosovo.


Updated : 2021-05-16 14:53 GMT+08:00