Biden announces first slate of political ambassadors, including a position for Sully Sullenberger

Mr Sullenberger is known for being the pilot who landed a plane on the Hudson River in 2009

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Tuesday 15 June 2021 22:16

Biden says he’s ‘always ready’ when asked about meeting with Putin

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Joe Biden has named his first slate of political ambassadors on Tuesday, including key posts for Mexico and Israel, at a time when he’s on his first abroad trip as president.

Former Colorado Senator Ken Salazar, who also previously served as President Barack Obama’s Interior Secretary, was announced as ambassador to Mexico.

Then Tom Nides, the former deputy secretary of state, was named as the ambassador to Israel.

Mr Nides appointment comes mere days after Israel voted in a new government, ending former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year reign as head of the country. The ousting of Mr Netanyahu was a relief to Democrats, but Mr Nides and the Biden administration could face difficulties when managing relations between Iran, the Palestinian territories and the Israeli government.

Other announcements on Tuesday include Cynthia Telles, who will serve as the ambassador to Costa Rica.

Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who was known for being the pilot who successfully landed a plane on New York’s Hudson River in 2009, will be the ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal.

Julianne Smith, who currently works as an adviser to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was announced as the ambassador to NATO.

These appointments were largely expected and come as Mr Biden is travelling overseas with the message to global leaders that “America is back at the table.”

Mr Biden met with G7 leaders last week in the United Kingdom and was expected to meet with Russian President Vladmir Putin on Wednesday – a highly anticipated meeting between the two leaders.

Previous reports indicated that Mr Biden also tapped Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as the country’s ambassador to India. Nicholas Burns, the former senior state department official, was also reportedly selected as the ambassador to China.

The White House has not confirmed these reports when contacted for a comment.

Both Mr Garcetti and Mr Burns, if confirmed by the US Senate, would enter into their positions as ambassadors at a prominent time in the country’s relationship with India and China.

Mr Garcetti served on the president’s campaign and was initially expected to hold a Cabinet position within the Biden White House before he was accused of sexual harassment by a former staffer.

Reasoning why some political ambassador positions have been announced before others was due to countries having to “agree to these selections, and so sometimes that’s part of the timelines,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Some of the political ambassadors who were selected by Mr Biden were currently undergoing a comprehensive background check, White House officials said, according to The New York Times.

More ambassador announcements are expected in the coming weeks from Mr Biden.

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