Obama Announces Plan To Name Marshalls, FSM Ambassadors

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Nominees Would Break Trend Of First Ambassadorial Posts

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, November 9, 2015) – President Obama announced Friday his plan to nominate new United States ambassadors to the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia.

Both are career foreign service members. Obama’s announcement means that he will soon forward the nominations to the U.S. Senate for Karen Brevard Stewart to replace Thomas Armbruster as ambassador to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and for Robert Riley to replace Dorothea-Maria Rosen as ambassador to the FSM. Both Armbruster and Rosen have been ambassadors since late 2012.

"I am confident that these experienced and hardworking individuals will help us tackle the important challenges facing America, and I am grateful for their service," Obama said in making the announcement Friday. "I look forward to working with them."

Both nations are close allies of the United States through "Compacts of Free Association" that give the U.S. defense authority for this vast region of the northwestern Pacific in exchange for significant grant funding and visa-free access to the U.S.

Stewart brings a long diplomatic and defense-related career to a country that hosts the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site, a facility that has been a major focus of missile defense testing since the 1960s.

Stewart is currently serving as political advisor to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, a position she has held since 2013.

Most past U.S. ambassadorial appointments to the Marshall Islands and FSM have promoted foreign service diplomats to their first ambassadorial post. But Stewart has two previous terms as U.S. ambassador under her belt, including postings as Washington’s envoy to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic from 2010 to 2013 and to the Republic of Belarus from 2006 to 2008.

She has worked for the State Department in Pakistan, Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. She has a master’s degree from the U.S. National War College.

Robert Riley is currently management counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, a position he has held since 2013. He has significant Asia experience, having worked in U.S. embassies in Manila, Hanoi, and Islamabad.

In the early- and mid-2000s, Riley worked at the U.S. embassies in Baghdad and in Paris.

Both ambassador nominees must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.


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