Washingtonian: The Maddening, Twisted Story of the Diplomat Who Became a Troll

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Via: Washingtonian |The Maddening, Twisted Story of the Diplomat Who Became a Troll

How could so many experts have concluded that Syring wouldn’t hurt them when his victims felt with such a visceral certainty that he would?

Part of it, at least for some people involved in the case, was that Syring just didn’t seem the type—white, older, someone who’d spent decades in a cautious bureaucracy. It didn’t make sense that a man with so much to lose would operate at such a high personal cost. Bristol had initially hedged his investigation for this reason, believing that a midlevel State Department employee probably wouldn’t also be a racist troll. (He says he would never make that assumption now.)
[..]
Zogby will be 78 when Syring gets out of prison, if he serves his full sentence, and 81 when his probation ends. If Syring reappears in Zogby’s life at that point, it will mark 20 years and counting that his obsession has persisted—20 years in which Zogby has never fully understood what Syring might be capable of doing to him. “I didn’t know, I never knew,” he told me recently. “And I still don’t know.”

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State/OIG Reports to Congress: Investigations Into Mrs P’s Travels, Ambassadors, Senior Advisors, FSOs and More

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On June 1, 2021, State/OIG published online its Semiannual Report to the Congress (October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021).
On  accountability and independence, the OIG reports:
“OIG did not encounter any attempts to interfere with Inspector General independence—whether through budgetary constraints designed to limit its capabilities, resistance or objection to oversight activities, or restrictions on or significant delays in access to information—for the reporting period from October 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021.
OIG encountered a three-month delay in scheduling an interview with Secretary Michael Pompeo as part of its review of allegations of misuse of Department resources. OIG initially requested an interview on September 11, 2020, but then-Secretary Pompeo did not agree to the interview (which was scheduled for December 23, 2020) until December 16, 2020.
During a mandated review of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ (INL) reporting related to National Drug Control Program activities, INL was not sufficiently responsive to OIG’s requests for information. At the conclusion of fieldwork, OIG determined that it could not complete its review because it did not have sufficient, appropriate evidence to be able to draw a conclusion about whether the Department’s management assertions in its Accounting and Authentication of FY 2020 Drug Control Funds and Related Performance Report were fairly stated.”
The Office of Evaluations and Special Projects (ESP):
“From October 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, ESP issued one unclassified report on Department programs and operations. Management Assistance Report: Representational Travel by the Spouse of the Secretary of State (ESP-21-01, 12/2020) In 2019, OIG received a whistleblower complaint related to travel by the spouse of the Secretary of State that the Department considered official travel. To investigate this complaint, OIG requested and reviewed documentation related to official representational family travel by Susan Pompeo from April 2018 to April 2020. Generally, Department policy permits such travel by relatives of Department officials for appropriate representational purposes. However, both Department guidance and principles of internal control require documentation of both the official purpose and the approval of the travel. The Secretary’s spouse took eight trips that were declared official from April 2018 to April 2020. Of the eight trips, OIG found documentation of an authorized purpose for all eight trips, but only found written approval for two of the trips.
OIG recommended that the Office of the Secretary seek and gain written approval for all representational travel, and that the Under Secretary for Management or other authorizing official document in writing the approval for all representational trips by any family members. The Department concurred with these recommendations.”
ESP Substantiation of Allegations of Non-Criminal Misconduct Involving Senior Government Employees, 10/1/2020–3/31/2021
— A case closed in January 2021 involved a U.S. Ambassador. “OIG found that the official committed several violations of Department policy, including involving a household member in official duties, using personal social media accounts for official activities, and failing to comply with 3 FAM 1214.1 “Leadership and Management Principles for Department Employees” and “The Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch,” issued by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. OIG referred its findings to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs and the Bureau of African Affairs. Shortly after OIG issued its findings, the Ambassador left office as part of the presidential transition.”
— A case closed in March 2021 involved a USAGM Senior Advisor.  “OIG found that the official violated Federal recordkeeping regulations by instructing employees to communicate with her on official matters using a mobile messaging application and then deleting the messages without properly preserving them in agency recordkeeping systems. OIG referred its findings to USAGM, which reviewed the matter and notified the National Archives and Records Administration of the improper disposal of Federal records.”
The Office of Investigations conducts worldwide investigations of criminal, civil, and administrative misconduct related to programs and operations of the Department. During the reporting period, OIG conducted a number of investigations involving senior Government employees.
Investigations Involving Senior Government Employees Where Allegations Were Substantiated, 10/1/2020–3/31/2021
— On June 12, 2015, OIG opened an investigation based on information that a senior Administrative Officer and two of her subordinates violated procurement rules and regulations related to the use of U.S. Government purchase cards. The investigation substantiated the allegation and revealed the officer instructed her employees to engage in the practice of split purchasing. As there was no violation of criminal law, the case was not referred to DOJ. However, the officer resigned from the Department while under investigation. The case was closed in January 2021.
— On October 28, 2019, OIG opened an investigation based on information that the senior advisor to a U.S. Ambassador serving overseas may have received supplemental compensation from a private company while serving as a U.S. Government employee. The investigation revealed the advisor transmitted Sensitive But Unclassified information to non-U.S. Government personnel and received gifts of airfare and a gift card valued over $8,000 from a private business entity. As there was no violation of criminal law, the case was not referred to DOJ. However, the officer resigned from the Department while under investigation. The case was closed in February 2021.
— On May 29, 2019, OIG opened an investigation regarding multiple allegations of misconduct by a U.S. Ambassador. The investigation revealed the Ambassador inappropriately used his position to try to influence the move of a professional sporting event to a different venue. He also knowingly allowed his special assistant to conduct personal matters that fell outside of her scope of official duties, and while using non-Department email accounts, he did not courtesy copy or forward to his official Department email account at least 62 official emails in the span of approximately 6 months.As there was no violation of criminal law, the case was not referred to DOJ. However, the Ambassador resigned from the Department while under investigation. The case was closed in February 2021.
Under notable resolutions, State/OIG/INV’s list includes the following:
— In March 2021,  two Foreign Service Officers agreed to pay more than $13,033 to the U.S. Government to resolve issues related to fraud allegations regarding Department travel vouchers. OIG special agents determined that the married couple engaged in a scheme to defraud the Department by filing four travel vouchers that claimed lodging expenses they were not entitled to under Federal Travel Regulations. The fraud was committed from approximately September 2014 through April 2019. OIG’s Office of General Counsel coordinated the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act action that resulted in the settlement.
–In October 2020, three individuals were indicted for using a business email compromise scheme, or BEC, to defraud the Department. OIG and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents determined the individuals tricked the Department and a nonprofit agency into wiring at least $575,000 into bank accounts they controlled for the purpose of enriching themselves and their co-conspirators.
Under employee misconduct:
— In November 2020, former Seabee Martin Huizar was sentenced to 109 months’ incarceration and ordered to pay $40,100 in fines and $10,000 in restitution, along with serving a 10-year term of supervised release, for transportation of images of child sexual abuse on his phones and tablet computer. The OIG Special Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case.
 

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Amb. Julieta Valls Noyes to be Asst Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/J/PRM)

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On June 3, 2021, President Biden announced his intent to nominate  Ambassador Julieta Valls Noyes to be the next Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/J/PRM). The bureau belongs to the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights family of offices.

Julieta Valls Noyes, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Department of State

Julieta Valls Noyes, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Career Minister, is Deputy Director of the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute, and a former U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Croatia.  She previously served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in the Department of State, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department, and as Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires a.i. at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.  She also was Deputy Director of the Department’s Operations Center, and Director of the Office of Multilateral and Global Affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.  Earlier, Noyes served as Deputy Director, Office of Policy Planning and Coordination, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, as Political Section Chief, U.S. Embassy Panama City, and as Political Officer at U.S. Embassy Madrid.  Noyes earned a B.A. from Wellesley College, and a Master’s from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.  She speaks Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French.  Noyes is a first-generation American whose parents entered the United States as refugees.

According to history.state.gov, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration was established May 12, 1994. Prior to this date it was called the Bureau of Refugee Programs, and its Directors were designated, not commissioned.
If confirmed, Ambassador Noyes would succeed Anne Claire Richard who served from 2012–2017.  In 2018, Tump nominated Ronald Mortensen to be the Assistant Secretary of State for PRM; that nomination was returned to the WH in 2019. The WH resubmitted the nomination to the Senate in January 2019 and March 2020 but the nomination got stuck in the Senate every time (PN2029 — 115th Congress (2017-2018); PN132 — 116th Congress (2019-2020); PN1612 — 116th Congress (2019-2020).

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US Embassy El Salvador: New Charge d’Affaires Jean Manes Arrives in San Salvador

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Amb Arnie Chacon Heads to U.S. Mission Canada as Chargé d’Affaires (a.i)

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So late Friday, the State Department announced the designation of Ambassador Arnie Chacon to be Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at U.S. Embassy Ottawa:

Today, Secretary Blinken designated Ambassador Arnold Chacon to serve as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at U.S. Embassy Ottawa. A career diplomat with the rank of Career Minister, Ambassador Chacon is currently detailed from the Department of State to the National Defense University as Senior Vice President. Ambassador Chacon previously served as the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources and U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala.

Ambassador Chacon’s appointment underscores the United States’ strong commitment to Canada and the Canadian people. He will lead the U.S. government’s diplomatic engagement in Canada by advancing the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership, including trade, climate change, COVID-19 response and recovery, and global and regional security issues.

The United States highly values its close partnership with Canada, and Ambassador Chacon is dedicated to advancing the bilateral relationship.

We’ve previously asked What’s going on at U.S. Mission Canada?
The State Department is just now sending out to Ottawa a former Ambassador (Guatemala) but also the former Director General of the Foreign Service to be CDA. He will be responsible for the embassy and its seven constituent posts as well.
👀
A top executive at the cable company Comcast has been rumored to be in the running to be Biden’s top diplomat for Canada. The announcement for the first slew of political ambassadorships is reportedly expected shortly.

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What was the cause for “universal revulsion and anger” at one post?

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Via FSGB Case No. 2020-009 | Interim Decision | February 4, 2021
Held –The Department of State (“Department) met its burden of proving that grievant committed one specification of Improper Personal Conduct, and one charge of Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct. The Department also established that the conduct showed poor judgment and lack of discretion, and that such misconduct had an impact upon the efficiency of the Service. The Department did not meet its burden of proving the charge of Inappropriate Comments and one specification of Improper Personal Conduct. The case was remanded to the Department to re- determine an appropriate consequence in light of the Board’s findings.
Case Summary – Grievant, a married Senior Foreign Service officer, while serving as Management Counselor at the U.S. Embassy REDACTED, was accused of sexual harassment based on inappropriate statements he reportedly made to female colleagues and conduct considered professionally improper. Grievant also appeared in a video published on a local website showing grievant and a local national woman seated together in the driver’s seat of a vehicle on a public road. The website article identified grievant as a foreign diplomat and commented on foreign diplomats and young host country women. Grievant later admitted to having an extramarital affair with the woman in the video, who was employed as a nanny by one of grievant’s subordinates. Grievant requested a voluntary curtailment because of the negative response by members of the embassy community concerning the video and to attend to a family illness.
The Department’s Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) investigated the sexual harassment allegations and forwarded its report to the Bureau of Human Resources (HR). Based on the findings of the S/OCR and after consideration of a description of the video showing grievant with the foreign national woman in the car, the Department proposed to suspend grievant for eight days without pay as discipline for Inappropriate Comments (three specifications), Improper Personal Conduct (two specifications), and Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct.
Grievant challenged the suspension proposal, however, it was sustained by the Department. After a grievance was denied, grievant appealed to the Foreign Service Grievance Board that found that the Department met its burden of proving that grievant committed one of two acts of Improper Personal Conduct and he engaged in Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct. The Board remanded the case to the Department for reconsideration of the proposed discipline in light of the Board’s decision.

Charge 3: Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct

The Department contends that grievant’s conduct, captured in the video which showed a young woman sitting in front of grievant in the driver’s seat while driving a car, had a negative impact upon mission morale. The Department noted that this video appeared on a popular local website and the existence of the video and its content were widely known within the mission. Grievant also admitted that he was having an extramarital affair with the woman who appeared with him in the video who was employed as a nanny for the family of one of grievant’s subordinates in the mission. The Department cites a statement by the CLO that both grievant’s family and the post family that employed the woman who appeared in the video were deeply affected. Grievant claims that his wife was aware of the relationship and argues that the video did not explicitly show his involvement in a sexual relationship. Nonetheless, the Department concluded that the video exposed the close relationship grievant was engaged in with the nanny of his subordinate, thereby embarrassing his colleagues, his family, and the mission.
[…]
With respect to the Charge of Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct, the Department notes that grievant admitted to having an extramarital affair with the woman in the video and the S/OCR report specifically corroborated that the video was publicized in the media in the host country. The Department argues that the physical closeness exhibited between grievant and the woman in the video, the nanny of one of his subordinates, and grievant’s admission that he was engaged in an affair with the woman, demonstrated his failure to maintain the high standard of conduct required of Foreign Service employees representing the U.S. abroad. The Department also points out that all new Foreign Service employees are briefed about their role representing the U.S. government abroad and the expectation that each maintain the highest standard of conduct demonstrating integrity, reliability and prudence whether at work or during their non- work hours. Further, the publication of the video resulted in embarrassment to others in the mission and disrupted grievant’s effectiveness as Management Counselor because his colleagues and supervisees refused to work with him. In fact, the Department points out that the publication of the video partially motivated grievant to request voluntary curtailment from post, thereby detrimentally affecting management operations at post.
[…]
Grievant maintains that the disciplinary action against him is unwarranted and that the statements upon which the charges and specifications are based are factually inaccurate and mischaracterized. He argues that the Department cannot meet its burden to establish that he engaged in Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct (Charge 3). Moreover, grievant argues that the proposed discipline is excessive for the alleged offenses, that the DO did not give adequate weight to several mitigating factors in his case, and that the penalty, therefore, is unreasonable.
[…]
Grievant maintains that the Department cannot meet its burden of proving that he engaged in Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct, as defined in the regulation. Grievant acknowledges that he did have an extramarital affair but maintains that it was discreet, not conducted publicly, not disgraceful but, instead, it was a meaningful relationship.

[…]
The FAM definition of notoriously disgraceful conduct is normative; that is, it is defined by the reaction to the conduct. In the instant matter, grievant is charged with engaging in an extra-marital affair with a local national woman, which was publicized by inference in a video on local media. Thus, grievant’s conduct is notoriously disgraceful because, were it widely known, it would embarrass or discredit him, the embassy, and the United States, or would subject them to censure or opprobrium. Grievant’s argument that the video was posted to a non- mainstream sensationalist website is unavailing, as the Department does not need to prove that grievant’s extramarital affair was in fact widely known or published by a widely-accessed medium, only that, if known, it would cause the concerns described in the regulation. In fact, though, the Department describes the internet website where the video was posted as popular and the record shows that it was sufficiently well-known that the embassy community quickly saw it, identified grievant and the nanny, and reacted negatively. Judging from the strong negative reaction, described by the Deputy Chief of Mission as “universal revulsion and anger,” we are satisfied that if evidence of the affair and the circumstances were widely known in the host country, a socially conservative country, the embassy and the United States would have been embarrassed and likely censured.
[…]
According to the S/OCR investigator, interviews with the Management staff revealed that the disclosure of the video made grievant’s “relationship with his subordinates irreparably bad [and] … brought forth a torrent of further negative reporting from across the mission about [grievant’s] behavior and his interpersonal skills.” Agency-Level Grievance Decision at 15. In the aftermath of the release of the video, grievant agreed to work from home and discontinued any contact with his subordinates or others at the embassy. Grievant also admitted that he ultimately voluntarily curtailed from post in part due to release of the video, even though the official rationale was listed as his mother’s health situation. The embassy had the unanticipated absence of a key senior official who supervised a large staff and provided administrative services to 15 U.S. government agencies. It is clear to the Board that the evidence supports the Department’s conclusion that grievant’s appearance in the video and his extramarital affair with a subordinate’s nanny led to his discredit as a senior embassy official within the mission and possibly in the wider community; adversely affected the embassy’s ability to carry out its responsibilities when grievant could no longer perform his job.

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Ambassador Jean Manes to Return to El Salvador as Chargé d’affaires

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On May 26, the State Department announced the designation of Ambassador Jean Manes as Chargé d’ affaires ad interim to the Republic of El Salvador. Ambassador Manes assumed duties as Civilian Deputy to the Commander and Foreign Policy Advisor, U.S. Southern Command, Miami, FL, in October 2019. SOUTHCOM Area of Responsibility (AOR) encompasses 32 nations (19 in Central and South America and 13 in the Caribbean). She previously served as U.S. Ambassador to San Salvador from March 30, 2016–July 31, 2019.
Via state.gov:

Secretary Blinken designated Ambassador Jean Manes as Chargé d’ affaires ad interim to the Republic of El Salvador. This appointment reflects the importance of our relations with El Salvador.  Ambassador Manes previously served as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador from 2016 to 2019. In almost 30 years of service as a diplomat, she has extensive experience overseeing U.S. government programs, and she also brings relationships with a broad array of Salvadorans, from government, civil society, and the private sector. These attributes ideally situate her to work collaboratively to improve conditions in El Salvador and address the root causes of irregular migration.

 

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POTUS Joe Biden Appoints Amb. Sung Kim to be U.S. Special Envoy to North Korea

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Ambassador Sung Y. Kim is currently the senior official for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs pending the confirmation of Ambassador Daniel J. Kritenbrink as Assistant Secretary of State for EAP bureau. On May 21, President Biden announced that Ambassador Kim will serve as the new U.S. special envoy for North Korea.
Below is his official bio from US Embassy Jakarta:

Ambassador Sung Y. Kim was nominated to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia on July 17, 2019 and confirmed by the full Senate on August 6, 2020.

Ambassador Sung Y. Kim most recently served as Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines from November 2016 until October 2020. From 2011 to 2014, he was the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. In between the two ambassadorships, Ambassador Kim served as Special Representative for North Korea Policy in Washington.

Earlier, Ambassador Kim also served as the Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks with the rank of Ambassador. His previous overseas diplomatic assignments have included Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, and Hong Kong. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he worked as a prosecutor in Los Angeles, California.

Ambassador Kim was born in Seoul, Korea, and grew up in Los Angeles. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and completed a degree in law from Loyola University. He also holds a Master of Laws degree from the London School of Economics and honorary doctorates from the Catholic University of Korea and the Holy Name University of the Philippines. Ambassador Kim is married and has two daughters.

 

 

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U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland to Also Serve as U.S. Special Envoy for Libya

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On May 10, 2021, the State Department announced the appointment of US Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland as U.S. Special Envoy for Libya. Prior to his appointment to Libya, Ambassador Norland also served as U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan and later to Georgia. Below is the State Department announcement:

The Department of State is pleased to announce that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland will now also serve in the capacity of U.S. Special Envoy for Libya in addition to Chief of Mission for Libya. In his role as U.S. Special Envoy, Ambassador Norland will lead U.S. diplomatic efforts to promote international support for a Libyan-led, inclusive, and negotiated political solution to the conflict, facilitated through the UN.

Ambassador Norland, a Career Minister in the Foreign Service and a three-time ambassador, has served as Chief of Mission at the Libya External Office in Tunis since August 2019. The addition of the U.S. Special Envoy role to Ambassador Norland’s Chief of Mission responsibilities signifies the importance the United States attaches to focused, high-level diplomatic outreach in support of the Libyan political process culminating in elections on December 24, 2021. He will work closely with key partners to strengthen efforts to keep the political process on track and ensure the removal of foreign forces from Libya.

Ambassador Norland also will work closely with interagency colleagues in Washington, civil society, and humanitarian partners to further the U.S. role in actively supporting the Libyan people as they seek lasting peace, security, and prosperity in their country. The U.S. Special Envoy will also keep Congress closely informed of our efforts.

At the May 10th DPB, a reporter inquired about Ambassador Norland’s new title:

QUESTION: I’m having trouble figuring out what exactly he’s going to be doing different today than he was doing, like, last week.

MR PRICE: Well, so obviously, last week he was not the special envoy. He is —

QUESTION: Yeah, I know. But other than having a new title, it sounds like he’s doing exactly the same thing as he was before. So why give him – why does he need this new title?

MR PRICE: Because the mandate he is taking on now will require him to engage on behalf of the U.S. Government with other partner nations —

QUESTION: Yeah, but —

MR PRICE: — serving beyond his role of chief of mission in Libya. As special envoy, he’ll have the remit to engage other governments, civil society, congress as well.

QUESTION: He didn’t before? I mean, he lives in Tunis, which is a different country.

MR PRICE: Right. But this gives him an elevated profile —

QUESTION: So he didn’t have the latitude to deal with the Italians or with the Maltese or with the Tunisians before?

MR PRICE: I think we wanted to make it very clear the priority we attach to this, and naming Ambassador Norland as a special envoy would give him that added remit.

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Ambassador Daniel Smith to be Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim at US Mission India

The life of a blog has no certainty. In most cases, a blog has a lifespan better than that of a mayfly. A day. But most blogs do not make it longer than winter bees (six months). We have to-date survived through 26 winter bee seasons! So that’s amazing! Whatever is in the horizon, we are thankful to all of you who made these seasons possible. We are on the last few days of our eight-week annual fundraising. We are grateful to over 400 readers who pitched in since we launched a few weeks ago. If you care what we do here, and you are able to help, please see GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27.  We could use your support.  ❤️❤️❤️ D!

 

On April 30, 2021, the State Department announced the appointment of Ambassador Daniel Smith to US Mission India as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim.
Ambassador Daniel Smith, the Director of the Foreign Service Institute who recently served as acting Secretary of State and Acting Deputy Secretary of State, will be departing for New Delhi to serve as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim. Ambassador Smith carries the highest Foreign Service rank of Career Ambassador.
Ambassador Smith’s appointment underscores the United States’ strong commitment to our partnership with the Government of India and the Indian people.  He will spearhead close cooperation with India to ensure that our countries continue to advance our shared priorities, including overcoming the global pandemic.
The United States stands in solidarity with India, and Ambassador Smith is committed to working together with India in partnership.

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