WASHINGTON – President Biden on Tuesday announced his long-awaited first slate of ambassadors, including his candidates for key positions in Mexico, Israel and NATO, as he made his first overseas trip since his input function.
Mr Biden also named Chesley B. Sullenberger III, the pilot who made a water landing off Midtown Manhattan after a double engine failure caused his plane to crash to land, as his candidate for the post. Ambassador to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Among the nine candidates announced were Ken Salazar, a former senator from Colorado who served as Home Secretary under the Obama administration, as ambassador to Mexico; and Thomas R. Nides, vice president of Morgan Stanley who served as assistant secretary of state under President Barack Obama, as ambassador to Israel.
The official announcements of the long-rumored appointments came as Mr. Biden traveled to Europe to demonstrate to world leaders that “America is back to the table.” Mr Nides’ appointment also came just days after a new government in Israel came to power, opening up the possibility of a less controversial relationship with the Biden administration.
Middle East pundits hailed Mr Nides’ selection.
“He has the connections to quickly get to the highest level of administration in the White House and the State Department,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former Obama administration official who is now director of the security program. in the Middle East at the Center for a New American Security.
Other candidates included Julianne Smith, adviser to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, to serve as Ambassador to NATO.
Tuesday’s announcement was to be the first batch of a multi-week rollout of nominees. Some of Mr. Biden’s selections for top positions overseas – including R. Nicholas Burns, a foreign service veteran and former NATO Ambassador, to serve as Ambassador to China, and Mayor Eric Garcetti from Los Angeles to serve as ambassador to India – have not been announced, for example, although several people familiar with the process have said their appointments have been finalized internally.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that the process takes a long time in part because “countries have to agree to these selections, and so sometimes it’s part of the schedule.” Some of Mr Biden’s unannounced candidates are completing background checks and financial reviews as part of the vetting process, White House officials have said.
Some of the announcements were delayed as the White House sought to deploy a diverse list of appointees. In addition to racial and gender diversity, Mr Biden also wanted to signal career leaders in the Foreign Service that they are valued by reducing the number of positions given to campaign donors.
This was evident among the nine names announced by Mr Biden on Tuesday, ahead of his high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.
Four of the candidates are career Foreign Service officials. They included Troy Fitrell to serve as ambassador to Guinea; Sharon L. Cromer as Ambassador to The Gambia; Julie Chung as Ambassador to Sri Lanka; and Marc Ostfield as Ambassador to Paraguay.
Mr. Biden also named Cynthia Ann Telles, Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of California Los Angeles, to serve as Ambassador to Costa Rica. Ms Telles was also a founding member of the board of directors of Americas United Bank, the first Hispanic commercial bank to be founded in California in more than 30 years, White House officials said.