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Obama taps new ambassadors for Iraq, Afghanistan

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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2009


President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry as Ambassador to Afghanistan and Christopher R. Hill as Ambassador to Iraq.

The President also announced his intent to nominate Ivo Daalder as United States Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Ambassador to NATO) and Alexander Vershbow as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. Vershbow, a former Foreign Service Officer who served as the U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Russia and South Korea, will have lead responsibility at the Pentagon for U.S. policy toward NATO, and will coordinate U.S. security and defense policies relating to the nations and international organizations of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. If confirmed, Vershbow and Daalder will coordinate on U.S. defense, development and diplomatic objectives at the upcoming NATO summit this April in Germany.

The President today also announced his intent to nominate Richard R. Verma for Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs at the State Department.

President Obama said, "I am honored and grateful that these dedicated public servants have agreed to join my administration as we work to tackle the great challenges of our time. These extraordinarily accomplished individuals have served their country with great distinction, and they have each agreed to take on tough assignments. I am confident that they will work with a sense of purpose and pragmatism, along with Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates, as we renew American diplomacy, strengthen our military, and advance our values and interests around the world."

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the follow individuals today:

Christopher R. Hill, Nominee for Ambassador to Iraq
Christopher R. Hill is currently the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
Ambassador Hill is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service whose most recent assignment was as Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. On February 14, 2005, he was named as the Head of the U.S. delegation to the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. Previously he has served as U.S. Ambassador to Poland (2000-2004), Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia (1996-1999) and Special Envoy to Kosovo (1998-1999). He also served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Southeast European Affairs in the National Security Council. Earlier in his Foreign Service career, Ambassador Hill served tours in Belgrade, Warsaw, Seoul, and Tirana, and on the Department of State's Policy Planning staff and in the Department's Operation Center. While on a fellowship with the American Political Science Association he served as a staff member for Congressman Stephen Solarz working on Eastern European issues. He also served as the Department of State's Senior Country Officer for Poland. Ambassador Hill received the State Department's Distinguished Service Award for his contributions as a member of the U.S. negotiating team in the Bosnia peace settlement, and was a recipient of the Robert S. Frasure Award for Peace Negotiations for his work on the Kosovo crisis. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Hill served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon.
Ambassador Hill graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine with a B.A. in Economics. He received a Master's degree from the Naval War College in 1994. He speaks Polish, Serbo-Croatian, and Macedonian.

Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, Nominee for Ambassador to Afghanistan
Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry is the Deputy Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium. His previous assignment was Commander of the Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan. Lieutenant General Eikenberry's operational posts include service as commander and staff officer with mechanized, light, airborne, and ranger infantry units in the continental United States, Hawaii, Korea, and Italy. He has served in various strategy, policy, and political-military positions, including: Director for Strategic Planning and Policy for U.S. Pacific Command; U.S. Security Coordinator and Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation in Kabul, Afghanistan; Assistant Army and later Defense Attaché at the United States Embassy in Beijing, China; Senior Country Director for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mongolia in the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and Deputy Director for Strategy, Plans, and Policy on the Army Staff.

Lieutenant General Eikenberry is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, has earned master's degrees from Harvard University in East Asian Studies and from Stanford University in Political Science, and was a National Security Fellow at the Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He earned an Interpreter's Certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the British Foreign Commonwealth Office while studying at the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence Chinese Language School in Hong Kong and he has an Advanced Degree in Chinese History from Nanjing University in the People's Republic of China. Lieutenant General Eikenberry's military awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished and Superior Service Medals, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Ranger Tab, Combat and Expert Infantryman badges, and master parachutist wings. He has received the Department of State Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards, Director of Central Intelligence Award, Canadian Meritorious Service Cross, Czech Republic Meritorious Cross, Hungarian Alliance Medal, French Legion of Honor, and Afghanistan's Ghazi Amir Amanullah Khan and Akbar Khan Medals. He is married to Ching Eikenberry.

Ivo Daalder, Nominee for United States Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Ambassador to NATO)
Ivo H. Daalder is currently a Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, and a well-known expert on American foreign policy, European security, and national security affairs. Daalder was a foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign in 2007-08, and served on President-elect Obama's NSC transition team. He was a director for European Affairs on President Clinton's National Security Council staff from 1995 to 1997, where he was responsible for coordinating U.S. policy toward Bosnia. Daalder has authored twelve books, including most recently In the Shadow of the Oval Office: Profiles of the National Security Advisers and the Presidents they Served--From JFK to George W. Bush (with I. M. Destler) and the award-winning America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy (with James M. Lindsay). Other recent books include Beyond Preemption: Force and Legitimacy in a Changing World (2007); Crescent of Crisis: U.S.-European Strategy for the Greater Middle East (2006); and Winning Ugly: NATO's War to Save Kosovo (2000). Daalder was educated at Oxford and Georgetown Universities, and received his Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is married to Elisa D. Harris, and they have two sons.

Alexander Vershbow, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Department of Defense
Alexander Vershbow served as Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 2005 to 2008, capping a 32-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service. Alexander Vershbow is a long-time expert on Russia, East-West relations, non-proliferation and European security affairs. From 2001 to 2005, he was U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation. From 1998 to 2001, Alexander Vershbow served as the U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). From 1994 to 1997, Vershbow served as Special Assistant to President Clinton and Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council. Prior assignments include Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO, Director of the State Department's Office of Soviet Union Affairs, and Advisor to the U.S. Delegation to the Strategic Arms Reductions Talks. Alexander Vershbow received a B.A. in Russian and East European Studies from Yale University and a Master's Degree in International Relations from Columbia University. His wife Lisa is a professional metal artist and designer of contemporary jewelry.

Richard R. Verma, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, State Department
Richard Verma is a partner at the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, but he most recently served as Senior National Security Advisor to the Senate Majority Leader, a position he held for several years. In 2008, Mr. Verma was appointed to serve on the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. The Commission's comprehensive report, "World At Risk" was released in December. Mr. Verma is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, a former country director for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and has worked in the House of Representatives. He also served as a member of the Obama/Biden Defense Department Transition Team. He holds degrees from the Georgetown University Law Center, American University's Washington College of Law, and Lehigh University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, was formerly an International Affairs Fellow of the Council, and has served on the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Critical Infrastructure Protection and the Law.


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