Amb. to Seoul Mark Lippert Gets an F-16 Ride Over South Korean Airspace, DPRK Reacts

Posted: 3:01 am ET

 

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Senate Confirmations: Hall, Silverman, Perez, Pyatt, Silliman, Yovanovitch

Posted: 1:57 am ET

On July 14, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following executive nominations

2016-07-14 PN1264 Lithuania Anne Hall, of Maine, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Lithuania.

2016-07-14 PN1374 Kuwait | Lawrence Robert Silverman, of Massachusetts, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the State of Kuwait.

2016-07-14 PN1423 Chile | Carol Z. Perez, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Chile.

2016-07-14 PN1491 Greece | Geoffrey R. Pyatt, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Greece.

2016-07-14 PN1492 Iraq | Douglas Alan Silliman, of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq.

2016-07-14 PN1493 Ukraine | Marie L. Yovanovitch, of Connecticut, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Ukraine.

The following nominees remain pending on the Senate’s Executive Calendar:

STATE DEPARTMENT

Amos J. Hochstein, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Energy Resources), vice John Stern Wolf.  Mar 10, 2016 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

Peter Michael McKinley, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federative Republic of Brazil.  Jul 14, 2016 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

OVERSEAS PRIVATE INVESTMENT CORPORATION

Nelson Reyneri, of Washington, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for a term expiring December 17, 2018, vice Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, term expired.  Jun 23, 2016 Placed on the Calendar pursuant to S.Res. 116, 112th Congress.

UNITED STATES ADVISORY COMMISSION ON PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

Douglas Barry Wilson, of Delaware, to be a Member of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy for a term expiring July 1, 2017, vice Elizabeth F. Bagley, term expired. Jun 10, 2016 Placed on the Calendar pursuant to S.Res. 116, 112th Congress.

EUROPEAN BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT

Catherine Ann Novelli, of Virginia, to be United States Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vice Robert D. Hormats, resigned.  Mar 10, 2016 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND

Janet L. Yellen, of California, to be United States Alternate Governor of the International Monetary Fund for a term of five years, vice Ben S. Bernanke, term expired.  Jun 25, 2015 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

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Is there consideration for possible impacts of US travel #security advisories? No? It depends?

Posted: 3:04 am ET

The State Department did a Background Briefing on State Department Communications With U.S. Citizens Overseas on July 7 with a senior agency official.

Below is an excerpt:

OPERATOR: Yes. Next we’ll go to the line of Jackie Northam with NPR. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks very much for doing this. I also have a couple of questions. And one is, is there any sort of consideration – I assume there is – about the economic impact of any of these Travel Warnings or advisories? I mean, tourism, surely, but also any sort of business deals that might be in the works, what sort of impact it’ll have on the host country.

And the other thing is I’m just trying to – I’m curious about why you’re doing this background call. Is – was something precipitated it? Was there just sort of a general, gosh, we should let everybody know, or did something happen that sort of pushed you to make this background call?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Again, Jackie, great questions. No, we do not consider the economic impact, because again, as I said, just as when we go into a host government and explain that the purpose of our Consular Information Program is to help U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad make good decisions about their activities and their travel plans, we do not take economic considerations into that mix. It’s purely about the security of American citizens. That said, we also work very closely with the Overseas Security Advisory Council – OSAC – which is a public-private partnership headed by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. And so we are able to use OSAC and all of its thousands of members – U.S. companies, academic organizations, NGOs – to help disseminate our Consular Information Program documents and our Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings, our Security and Emergency Messages. And obviously, those companies will take all of that into account; they will work with OSAC on doing risk assessments for their own purposes to help develop security plans and so forth for both their U.S. employees as well as other nationalities who work for the companies.

Why are we doing this now? I think because recently we’ve had so many questions from the press about the differences between Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings. We just felt that it was a good time to try to explain what this is all about.

*

Actually, the policy says it is undertaken without regard to  — not just economic but also political consideration. Per 7 FAM 051.2:

Information provided is based on our best objective assessment of conditions in a given country, as reported by posts as well as other Department bureaus, media, and other foreign and U.S. Government sources. The decision to issue a Travel Alert, Travel Warning, or a Security or Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens for an individual country is based on the overall assessment of the safety/security situation there. By necessity, this analysis must be undertaken without regard to bilateral political or economic considerations. Accordingly, posts must not allow extraneous concerns to color the decision of whether to issue information regarding safety or security conditions in a country, or how that information is to be presented.

The Foreign Affairs Manual also notes what happens when there are disagreements among bureaus:

Disagreements among bureaus over Cou..ntry Specific Information, Travel WarningsTravel Alerts, or Messages are generally resolved by either the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (P) or the Under Secretary for Management (M).

So economic or political consideration was not/not the reason why it took a geographic bureau “months” to get the front office in a high threat post to agree to that new travel warning.  It was the typewriter’s fault?  Thank heavens that’s cleared up 😳!

 

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@StateDept Orders Departure of Non-Emergency Personnel From US Embassy #Juba, Canada Closes Embassy

Posted: 1:12 am ET
Updated 1:20 am ET

On July 10, the State Department issued a new Travel Warning against travel to South Sudan due to ongoing fighting, intercommunal violence, and violent crime.  It also announced the “ordered departure” of non-emergency personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Juba.  Post is headed by Ambassador Mary Catherine (Molly) Phee, a career diplomat who was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan in July last year.

CIA Map

CIA Map

Excerpt below:

The U.S. State Department warns U.S. citizens against travel to the Republic of South Sudan because of ongoing fighting, intercommunal violence, and violent crime.  On July 10, 2016, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel from US. Embassy Juba.  This replaces the Travel Warning dated December 31, 2015.

After clashes between government and opposition forces in Juba on July 7 and 8, general fighting broke out in Juba on July 10.  Since the signing of a peace agreement in August 2015 and the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity in April 2016, instability has persisted nonetheless across the country.  This instability is exacerbated by intertribal and intercommunal violence, cattle raiding, economic uncertainty, and an increase in violent crime. Aid workers have been the targets of shootings, ambushes, assaults, harassment and robberies, some resulting in death.  Fighting that began on July 10 marked a sudden and serious deterioration in the security situation in the capital.

The risk of violent crime is high throughout South Sudan, including in Juba.  Due to the risk of carjacking and banditry, travel outside of Juba should be undertaken with a minimum of two vehicles and appropriate recovery and medical equipment in case of mechanical failure or other emergency.  All U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance, and should carry medical evacuation insurance.

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of South Sudan, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM). For further background information regarding FAA flight advisories and prohibitions for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

Read the full text of the warning here.

Meanwhile, CBCNews is reporting that the Canadian government has now closed its embassy in Juba “until further notice” and warned Canadians in the country to consider leaving as soon as it’s safe to do so.  “Be aware that the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular assistance in South Sudan is extremely limited. The situation in Juba is deteriorating,” reads a Global Affairs advisory sent to Canadian nationals in South Sudan. See more here.

A few news clips:

 

Related posts:

 

Senate Confirms Casper, Pasi, Leonard, and 279 Career Foreign Service Nominations

Posted: 3:01 am ET

 

On June 29, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Obama’s nominees as Ambassadors to Burundi, Chad and the African Union. It also approved the nominations of 279 career Foreign Service officers.

2016-06-29 PN1489 Department of State
Anne S. Casper, of Nevada, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Burundi.

2016-06-29 PN1384 Department of State
Geeta Pasi, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Chad.

2016-06-29 PN1373 Department of State
Mary Beth Leonard, of Massachusetts, to be Representative of the United States of America to the African Union, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

2016-06-29 PN951-2 Foreign Service
Nomination for Richard Gustave Olson, Jr., which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 19, 2015.

2016-06-29 PN1419 Foreign Service
Nomination for Emily M. Scott, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 28, 2016.

2016-06-29 PN1486 Foreign Service
Nominations beginning Amanda R. Ahlers, and ending Lee V. Wilbur, which 90 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 18, 2016.

2016-06-29 PN1495 Foreign Service
Nominations beginning Jocelyn N. Adams, and ending Brian Joseph Zacherl, which 187 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 19, 2016.

 

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D/SecState Blinken Swears in Stephen Schwartz, First U.S.Ambassador to Somalia in 25 Years

Posted: 2:54 am ET

Below is an excerpt from the remarks made by D/Secretary Blinken at the swearing-in ceremony of the new U.S. Ambassador to Somalia, Stephen Schwartz . The ceremony was attended by the ambassador’s family and Ahmed Awad, the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Somalia to the United States.  Ambassador James Keough Bishop (1938–), our last ambassador to Somalia who served in Mogadishu  from September 19, 1990–January 5, 1991 also attended the event according to the transcript.  Via state.gov:

Somalia needs leaders who believe in this future and whose legitimacy to realize it is beyond question. The hope of political stability is ultimately not possible without the assurance of security. We have to continue to degrade al-Shabaab and deny them safe haven in Somalia. As the date of elections approaches, the United States will remain a strong partner to the Somali national security forces and to AMISOM.

It’s precisely because this moment represents so much possibility, so much potential, that President Obama has chosen as his representative a diplomat of unmatched caliber and a public servant of unrivaled heart. Sober and idealistic – (laughter) – is how one of his cousins, who happens to be a good friend of mine, described Steve to me. It was very good to hear that he has at least half the attributes necessary – (laughter) – to be an effective Foreign Service officer and ambassador.

From his first days as a Peace Corps volunteer advising a cooperative in Cameroon through decades of distinguished service in the Foreign Service, Steve has proven that true leadership is equal parts confidence and humility. I know this because we actually dug up a document that he once wrote for his team. It’s called “How to Be a Foreign Service Star.” (Laughter.) Now, to my colleagues who are Foreign Service officers, there’s a lot of very valuable advice here and I commend this to you.
[…]
Today we have with us the flag that flew and the seal that adorned the U.S. Embassy Mogadishu in 1991. While we work to transition or mission from Kenya back to Somalia, it is our sincere hope, Steve, that you will have the opportunity to raise this flag in Mogadishu once again.

Deputy Secretary Blinken Swears in Stephen Schwartz as the New U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Deputy Secretary of State Antony “Tony” Blinken swears in Stephen Schwartz as the new U.S. Ambassador to Somalia in a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C., on June 27, 2017. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

Deputy Secretary of State Antony “Tony” Blinken swears in Stephen Schwartz as the new U.S. Ambassador to Somalia in a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C., on June 27, 2017. [State Department Photo/ Public Domain]

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Top Diplomats Oppose Lateral Entry Program to the MidLevels in the Foreign Service

Posted: 1:28 am ET

Last month,  the American Academy of Diplomacy (AAD) sent a letter to SFRC Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn) to register its strong opposition to the provision in the draft FY 2017 State Department Authorization Bill (Section 207) mandating a program for lateral entry into the Foreign Service at the middle and higher ranks. Below is an excerpt:

— The provision will damage American security interests by undermining the professional nature of the U.S. Foreign Service. Professionalism is as necessary for diplomacy as for the military.

— The provision will subject the Foreign Service to unprecedented politicization to the detriment of our nation’s security.

— At a time when we ask Foreign Services Officers to risk life and limb in assignments from Afghanistan to Africa, the provision would allow entry into the Service at ranks equivalent to Major, Lt. Colonel and Colonel without earning that distinction by actual service and without accumulating the experience to support their status.
[….]
The Academy’s mission is to promote a strong American diplomacy, which today is needed more than ever to support and protect America’s interests. Our most recent report, American Diplomacy at Risk, called for an effective American diplomacy based on a strong State Department founded on strong Foreign and Civil Services. We called for robust funding of diplomacy and we highlighted the need to enhance a professional Foreign Service, not diminish it as this proposed provision will do. The need for a professional Service has been affirmed repeatedly in legislation for nearly 100 years. It will be even more needed in the global world of tomorrow.

The letter signed by AAD Chairman Thomas Pickering, Vice Chairman Marc Grossman, and President Ronald Neumann, was also sent to Senators Cardin and McCain and Representatives Engel and Royce.

The Academy of American Diplomacy founded in 1983 is a non-profit organization whose active membership is limited to men and women who have held positions of high responsibility in crafting and implementing American foreign policy. Last year, it issued the report, American Diplomacy at Risk available to read here (PDF).

Read the letter in full below:

 

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Ambassador Nomination: Douglas Silliman — From Kuwait to Iraq

Posted: 1:23 am ET

On May 19, President Obama announced Douglas Silliman as his nominee for the next Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq. The WH released the following brief bio:

Douglas Silliman, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as U.S. Ambassador to the State of Kuwait, a position he has held since 2014.  Ambassador Silliman was a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2013 to 2014 and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq from 2012 to 2013.  From 2011 to 2012, he was Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs in Baghdad.  Before serving in Iraq, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Ankara, Turkey from 2008 to 2011.  Ambassador Silliman was Director of the Office of Southern European Affairs from 2005 to 2007 and Deputy Director from 2004 to 2005.  From 2000 to 2004, he was Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan.  Since joining the Foreign Service in 1984, he has also served at posts in Haiti, Pakistan, and Tunisia.

Ambassador Silliman received a B.A. from Baylor University and an M.A. from The George Washington University.

Photo via USEmbassy Kuwait/FB

Photo via USEmbassy Kuwait/FB

Ambassador Silliman had his confirmation hearing at the SFRC on June 21.  If confirmed, he would succeed career diplomat, Stuart E. Jones, who was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to Iraq on September 17, 2014.

 

Related posts:

 

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Ambassador Nomination: Sung Y. Kim — From North Korea Special Rep to the Philippines

Posted: 1:21  am ET

On May 18, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Sung Y. Kim as his nominee to be the next Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines. The WH released the following brief bio:

Sung Y. Kim, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is Special Representative for North Korea Policy and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State, positions he has held since 2014.  Previously, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 2011 to 2014, Special Envoy for the Six Party Talks with the rank of Ambassador from 2008 to 2011, and Director of the Office of Korean Affairs in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs from 2006 to 2008.  Mr. Kim was Political-Military Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea from 2002 to 2006.  Since joining the Foreign Service in 1988, Mr. Kim has also held positions at posts in Hong Kong, Japan, and Malaysia.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Kim was a Deputy District Attorney in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Kim received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, a J.D. from Loyola Law School, and an LL.M. from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

US Ambassador to Seoul, Sung Kim with Psy (Photo via US Embassy/FB)

US Ambassador to Seoul, Sung Kim with Psy
(Photo via US Embassy/FB)

If confirmed, Ambassador Kim would succeed career diplomat, Philip Goldberg who was appointed chief of mission to the US Embassy in Manila in December 2013.

 

Related posts:

 

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12 Former AFSA Presidents Express “Deep Concern” Over Proposed FS Lateral Entry Program

Posted: 2:02 am ET

 

Twelve former AFSA presidents whose tenures span nearly half a century wrote a letter to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee expressing “deep concern and opposition to Section 207 of the 2017 State Authorization Bill.” See New @StateDept Authorization Bill Includes 3-Year Pilot Program For Lateral Entry Into the Foreign Service.

The past presidents write:  “The Foreign Service Act of 1980 requires entry into the Foreign Service to be “rigorous and impartial.” Lateral entry programs are neither rigorous nor impartial. There have been several lateral entry programs during our collective service. All have been vehicles for abuse through the hiring of personal and political cronies of those administering the lateral entry.”

They urge Senator McCain as an “Officer of the United States Navy, an organization founded on career professionalism and special service” to “decline to attach the 2017 State Authorization in its present form” to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA). As far as we could tell, the NDAA passed by the Senate on June 14 does not include the lateral entry provision.

The letter is signed by William C. Harrop, Thomas D. Boyatt, Lars Hydle, Dennis K. Hays, F.A. Tex Harris, Alphonse F. La Porta, Marshall P. Adair, John Naland, John Limbert, Susan R. Johnson, Theodore L. Eliot, and Lannon Walker.

Read in full below:

 

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