Around the World in Tweets: Special Envoys


U.S. Special Envoy and Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland Visits Tripoli


On July 26, the State Department announced U.S. Special Envoy and Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland’s visit to Tripoli:

U.S. Special Envoy and Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland visited Tripoli, Libya July 26 where he met with interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba, attended a signing ceremony for a new 5G telecommunications contract between Libyan company Hatif and U.S. company Infinera, and held other meetings with Libyan and international representatives.  Ambassador Norland underscored the need for Libya’s leaders to make key preparations to ensure successful nationwide elections in December, including determining a constitutional basis and the election law that will govern them.  He emphasized that Libya’s leaders must make the necessary compromises to meet the Libyan peoples’ expectation of free and fair elections, an essential step towards a stable, unified, and democratic Libya.  Ambassador Norland also reaffirmed that stability and continued progress on the political and security track will lead to greater economic opportunities, foreign investments, and prosperity for Libyans.  Ambassador Norland was accompanied by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Treasury Eric Meyer.


Libya: U.S. Officials on Highest Level Diplomatic Visit to Tripoli Since 2014

13 Going on 14 — GFM:


Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood and Special Envoy for Libya Richard Norland visited Libya May 18 and underscored U.S. support for Libya’s December 2021 elections. This is the highest level diplomatic visit to Tripoli since 2014. Acting Assistant Secretary Hood and Ambassador Norland met with Libyan interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba, Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush, Head of the Presidential Council Mohamed Menfi, and President of the High National Electoral Commission Dr. Emad al-Sayah and also discussed areas of mutual interest, including a Libyan-led, inclusive, and negotiated political solution to the conflict, facilitated through the UN and full implementation of the October 23 Libyan ceasefire agreement.

Related posts:

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

The fundraising campaign is closer to its goal today than yesterday, but it’s not quite there yet. We are grateful to the more than 450 donors who have supported our annual fundraising to-date. We will not run an indefinite campaign, just a few weeks out of the year.  Help us meet our goal so we can get back to our regular blogging programming. If you are able to help, you may pitch in at GFM: Thanks – DS


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.


Presentations of Credentials: U.S. Ambassadors to Libya, Malawi, Mexico, Slovakia, Slovenia







US Embassy Tbilisi Warns of Severe Flooding, Escaped Zoo Animals

Posted: 3:26 pm  PDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]


On June 14, the U.S. Embassy in Georgia issued an emergency message warning U.S. citizens in Tbilisi of severe flooding as well as escaped zoo animals in the city:

U.S. Embassy Tbilisi informs U.S. citizens that flooding in Tbilisi last night caused significant damage, including several casualties. A number of zoo animals also escaped. Although some have been captured, others remain at large. There are numerous road closures around the city, including Heroes Square and parts of the river road. Residents should exercise caution and avoid affected areas, particularly those adjacent to the zoo.

The embassy also expressed sympathy for the casualties and readiness to assist the government:

The United States wishes to express its condolences to all those in Tbilisi who have suffered as a result of the devastating flooding over the past 24 hours. We mourn the loss of 12 lives. Ambassador Norland and Mayor Narmania spoke this afternoon. The Ambassador affirmed our readiness to assist the government and people as they mourn the dead, treat the injured, and assess the extensive losses and damage caused by this natural disaster.

More via Twitter:





Photo of the Day: Ambassador Norland climbs Georgia’s chapel-on-a-rock

Posted: 11:27 am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]


Via US Embassy Tbilisi from Ambassador Richard Norland:

“Georgia is an amazing combination of rich cultural and religious traditions. Mary and I were in Batumi over the weekend, attending the Georgian Muslim Union’s International Forum on Religion and Peace. On our way home, we drove through Chiatura — a hardy mining community finding its way forward by drawing on a combination of Soviet-era infrastructure and modern investment including from the U.S. firm Georgian-American Alloys.

En route, we happened upon the 1000-year old church at Qatskhi, and the amazing chapel-on-a-rock nearby, where Father Maksim carries on a centuries-old tradition of residing alone atop the huge stone promontory. With Father Maksim’s blessing, my security guard and I scaled the iron ladder planted into the side of the rock. Wet with rain, steep and narrow, it was an unforgettable trip up — and down! At the top, the solitude of the small ancient chapel and the monk’s simple quarters was inspiring.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 6.44.34 AM

Image via US Embassy Tbilisi/FB

Active link added above.  The Katskhi Pillar photo is by Levan Nioradze Levan Nioradze’s Photoworks.  It is a natural limestone monolith located at the village of Katskhi in the western Georgian region of Imereti, near the town of Chiatura. It is approximately 40 metres (130 ft) high, and overlooks the small river valley of Katskhura. Read more here. Click here for more photos from US Embassy Tbilisi.



Nomination: Ian C. Kelly — From Diplomat in Residence UIC to US Embassy Georgia

Posted: 00:12 am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]


On March 12, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Ian C. Kelly as the next ambassador to Georgia. The Wh released the following brief bio:

Ian C. Kelly, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Department of State’s Diplomat in Residence at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a position he has held since 2013.  Prior to that, Mr. Kelly served as U.S. Representative, with the rank of Ambassador, to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna, Austria from 2010 to 2013.  Mr. Kelly was Spokesperson in the State Department’s Bureau of Public Affairs from 2009 to 2010, Director of the Office of Russian Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs from 2007 to 2009, and Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from 2004 to 2007.  He was an Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy from 2000 to 2004, an Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey from 1997 to 2000, and a Program Officer in the Office of the Coordinator of Newly Independent States Assistance from 1994 to 1996.  Prior to that, Mr. Kelly held positions at U.S. Missions in Austria, Serbia, the former USSR, and Italy.  Before joining the Foreign Service in 1985, he taught Russian language in the former USSR and at Barnard and Columbia Colleges in New York City.

Mr. Kelly received a B.A. from Saint Olaf College, an M.A. from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Ian Kelly speaks at the Open Skies Treaty Review Conference.

U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Ian Kelly speaks at the Open Skies Treaty Review Conference. (photo by

The current Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland who was appointed by President Obama as chief of mission to the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi in 2012 released the following statement:

I am pleased that the White House has nominated such an experienced and well-respected colleague to succeed me later this year here in Georgia.  His candidacy will next be considered by the U.S. Senate, and subject to Senate confirmation we would expect him to arrive in Tbilisi sometime after my anticipated departure upon completion of my 3-year tour later this summer.  One of the most difficult parts of being a professional diplomat is to contemplate leaving a place one has come to know and love, but that is in the nature of this profession.  In the months until my departure, it will continue to be my honor to do my best to advance U.S.-Georgia relations and promote democracy, security and prosperity in this remarkable, historic land.


Photo of the Day: US Embassy Tbilisi Gets a Visit from Batman

US Embassy Tbilisi fbposted: “Look who joined the US Embassy Tbilisi to celebrate Halloween!”  There is no truth to the rumors that Ambassador Richard Norland masqueraded as batman.

But move over Christian Bale


– DS




Officially In: Richard Norland – from National War College to Georgia

English: Richard B. Norland, U.S. diplomat. U....

Image via Wikipedia

On February 17, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Richard Norland to be the next Ambassador to Georgia. The WH released the following brief statement:

Ambassador Richard Norland, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, serves as the International Affairs Advisor and Deputy Commandant at the National War College.  From September 2007 to July 2010, he was U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Uzbekistan.  Prior to which, he served for two years as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Additional overseas assignments have included: Deputy Chief of Mission in Riga, Latvia; Diplomat with the U.S. Army Civil Affairs team in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan; Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin; and Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.  He was Director for European Affairs on the National Security Council for two years during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Ambassador Norland has a B.S. from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and National War College.

A better outline of his previous assignments is here.  He served two years in Kabul and presumably a year in Mazar-e-Sharif.  Ambassador Norland speaks French, Russian, Norwegian and Latvian. He and his wife, Mary Hartnett, have two children.

If confirmed, Ambassador Norland would succeed career diplomat, John Bass who was appointed by President Obama to the US Embassy in Tbilisi in 2009. No political appointee has yet succeeded in getting appointed as US Ambassador to Georgia.


Related item:
February 17, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts