Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August 14, 2019

Newsline: Trump mulling North Korea envoy to be next ambassador to Moscow

The White House is discussing whether to replace Jon Huntsman, the outgoing US ambassador to Moscow, with Steve Biegun, the special representative for North Korea, two administration officials tell CNN. (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/us-ambassador-moscow-steve-biegun/index.html) Huntsman is set to step down in October after two years, the State Department announced last week, after reports that the former diplomat was moving back to Utah, perhaps to run for governor, a role he held from 2005 to 2009. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that President Donald Trump told President Vladimir Putin during a phone call last month that a new ambassador to Russia would be nominated “shortly.” The new ambassador will be taking up residence in Moscow at an especially challenging time, as US-Russia relations continue to be strained by Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, its annexation of Crimea and disruptive activities in eastern Ukraine. Concerns are also growing about a potential nuclear arms race, as both world powers have now abandoned nonproliferation treaties that kept their arsenals in check. Biegun is seen as a fit for the challenging diplomatic post because of his extensive experience on Russia and in Washington. He served on the National Security Council as its executive secretary under President George W. Bush and spent 14 years working as a congressional aide in both the House and the Senate.

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Newsline: Son of Brazil’s President, on Track to Be Ambassador to U.S.

Prosecutors in Brazil have launched what looks like a last-ditch effort to block President Jair Bolsonaro from nominating his son Eduardo to be the country’s next ambassador to the United States. The public prosecutor’s office in Brasília, the capital, argued in court papers filed Monday that the younger Bolsonaro, a 35-year-old congressman and close aide to his father, is not qualified to fill the country’s most prestigious diplomatic post, having never served his country abroad. Before his election to Congress, the younger Bolsonaro had worked as a low-ranking federal police officer, and the only international experience listed on his resume is the year he spent on a work-exchange program in the U.S., which included a brief stint behind the cash register at a Popeyes, a fast food restaurant. (https://theintercept.com/2019/08/13/eduardo-bolsonaro-pro-trump-son-brazils-president-track-ambassador-u-s/) Despite the court challenge, momentum for the likely nomination of the president’s son — a climate change denier who also happens to be a huge fan of Donald Trump — has been building in recent weeks. As his son met with Brazilian senators to win their support for his nomination last week, Jair Bolsonaro revealed that the Trump administration had promised in writing that it would welcome Eduardo’s appointment. The week before, the idea was publicly endorsed by Trump himself, who called the younger Bolsonaro “outstanding.”