Officially In: Bosworth and Ross

After a few weeks of rumors, Ambassador Stephen Bosworth is officially the State Department’s Special Representative for North Korea Policy. The announcement below is dated February 20:

I have appointed Ambassador Stephen W. Bosworth as Special Representative for North Korea Policy. Ambassador Bosworth will be our senior official handling North Korea issues, reporting to the Secretary of State, as well as to the President.

I have asked Ambassador Bosworth to oversee U.S. efforts in the Six-Party Talks to achieve the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner. He will serve as our senior emissary for U.S. engagement with North Korea, in close consultation with our allies and partners.

Ambassador Bosworth’s experience both in government and in the private sector makes him an ideal candidate for this task. He served as United States Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 1997 to 2000. He was Executive Director of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization from 1995 to 1997 and previously served as Ambassador to Tunisia and the Philippines. He has visited North Korea several times and currently serves as Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Obviously, this was a tad confusing to some in the press. When queried about the difference between the Special Representative and career diplomat, Ambassador Sung Kim’s position as U.S. Special Envoy to the Six-Party Talks, the Acting Deputy Spokesman had this to say:

A special envoy, in diplomatic parlance, has the authority to negotiate. A special representative, in this particular case, as well as in Ambassador Holbrooke’s case, is an authority who coordinates across the board for the United States. So Sung Kim will remain our Special Envoy and he will handle the day-to-day contact and discussions with our Six-Party colleagues. And Ambassador Bosworth will be the special representative coordinating the overall U.S. Government effort.

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Okay, after the longest rumor-run, finally ta-da – the Acting Department Spokesman announced yesterday the appointment of Dennis Ross as Special Advisor for The Gulf and Southwest Asia. The announcement dated February 23 is below:

The Secretary is pleased to announce the appointment of Dennis B. Ross to the position of Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for The Gulf and Southwest Asia. This is a region in which America is fighting two wars and facing challenges of ongoing conflict, terror, proliferation, access to energy, economic development and strengthening democracy and the rule of law. In this area, we must strive to build support for U.S. goals and policies. To be successful, we will need to be able to integrate our policy development and implementation across a broad range of offices and senior officials in the State Department, and, in his role as Special Advisor to the Secretary, Ambassador Ross will be asked to play that role.

Specifically, as Special Advisor, he will provide to the Secretary and senior State Department officials strategic advice and perspective on the region; offer assessments and also act to ensure effective policy integration throughout the region; coordinate with senior officials in the development and formulation of new policy approaches; and participate, at the request of the Secretary, in inter-agency activities related to the region.

Ambassador Ross brings a wealth of experience not just to issues within the region but also to larger political-military challenges that flow from the area and have an impact outside of the Gulf and Southwest Asia, and the Secretary looks forward to drawing on that experience and diplomatic perspective.

Speculations about Ambassador Ross’ new title is ripe and kicking around the blogosphere already. Check out this one and this one.

Update: 2:00 pm

More than a few commentators have pointed out the glaring absence of the mention of Iran as part of this portfolio. But given Ambassador’s perspective about engagement with Iran, you and I probably won’t really hear anything about it until they’re good and ready (if it is part of this portfolio, that is). In 2008 during his official testimony at the Senate, Ambassador Ross recommended a direct, secret back channel to set up engagement with the Iranians, but cautioned that any such channel should engage Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader.

Intractable problems these are, for both Ambassadors Bosworth and Ross. Fingers crossed for when diplomacy works, and good wishes.

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