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On April 23, 2021 President Biden announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Donald Lu to be the next Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. The WH released the following brief bio:
Donald Lu, Nominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Department of State
Donald Lu, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, has been U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic since 2018. Previously, Lu was U.S. Ambassador to Albania. He has also served as Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy New Delhi, India, Deputy Chief of Mission and the Chargé d’affaires, U.S. Embassy Baku, Azerbaijan and Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. Earlier, Lu was the Deputy Director, Office of Central Asian and South Caucasus Affairs, for the Department of State and, before that, the Special Assistant to the Ambassador for the Newly Independent States. He also held postings in India, Georgia, and Pakistan. Lu earned M.A. and B.A. degrees from Princeton University. He is the recipient of the Rockwell Anthony Schnabel Award for advancing U.S.-European Union relations. Ambassador Lu speaks and reads Albanian, Russian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, West African Krio, Hindi and Urdu.
According to history.state.gov, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993 (P.L. 102-138; 105 Stat. 658) authorized the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs on October 28, 1991. Previous appointees to this position are as follows:
- Robin Lynn Raphel (1993–1997)
- Karl Frederick Inderfurth (1997–2001)
- Christina B. Rocca (2001–2006)
- Richard A. Boucher (2006–2009)
- Robert Orris Blake Jr. (2009–2013)
- Nisha Desai Biswal (2014–2017)
SES William Todd served as Acting A/S for SCA in 2017. On January 3, 2019, Trump nominated Robert Williams, a former Defense Intelligence Agency official for the SCA bureau. The nomination was withdrawn by the president on April 11, 2019.
SFSO Alice G. Wells served as Acting A/S from 2017-June 2020. After Ambassador Wells’ departure, DAS Thomas L. Vajda served as the South and Central Asian Bureau’s “senior bureau official on an interim basis.” SFSO Dean Thompson has been Acting A/S since January 20, 2021.
If confirmed, Ambassador Lu would be the first Senate-confirmed assistant secretary to lead the bureau since 2017. Also with Ambassador Lu’s nomination, Foggy Bottom now has one non-career appointee (EUR), one retired FS (NEA), and five active career Foreign Service officers (WHA, EAP, AF, IO, SCA) expected to lead the State Department’s geographic bureaus.
🇺🇸👏 | @USEmbassyKG is proud to learn that @POTUS has announced his intention to nominate Donald Lu, U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic, as the next Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs. @State_SCA
✅ https://t.co/ZwKYX3BC59 pic.twitter.com/JE2ul3MHjl
— U.S. Embassy Bishkek (@USEmbassyKG) April 23, 2021