President Biden unveiled a slate of nominations for nine ambassadorial positions on Tuesday, including his picks to hold the key diplomatic posts in Mexico, Israel and NATO.
Biden’s picks included career foreign service officers as well as prominent political allies and public figures. The president’s nominations were revealed during his first overseas trip. Biden met with key European allies in the G-7 and NATO ahead of a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Selections included Thomas Nides, a Morgan Stanley executive and former senior State Department official, to serve as U.S. ambassador to Israel. Nides was one of Biden’s biggest campaign bundlers during his presidential run.
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If confirmed, Nides would inherit a key diplomatic role in Israel amid lingering tensions in Gaza following intense clashes with Hamas militants earlier this year. Israel formed a new government this month, ousting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been an outspoken critic of the Biden administration’s policies toward Iran.
Other notable picks included Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, a former Air Force pilot and NASA aviation safety research consultant, to serve as the U.S. representative on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Sullenberger is best known for safely executing an emergency water landing in New York’s Hudson River when his commercial plane experienced dual engine failure.
Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator from Colorado and former Secretary of the Interior, was tapped to be ambassador to Mexico. The Biden administration has faced pressure from Republican lawmakers to address a mounting immigration crisis at the southern border.
Julianne Smith, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, was nominated to serve as the U.S. permanent representative to NATO.
Other nominees included Julie Jiyoon Chung as ambassador to Sri Lanka, Sharon Cromer as ambassador to Gambia, Troy Fitrell as ambassador to Guinea, Marc Ostfield as ambassador to Paraguay and Cynthia Telles as ambassador to Puerto Rico.
All of the picks are subject to a confirmation vote in the Senate.
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Last year, Biden said he would fill ambassadorships based on merit rather than political relationships or donations. The White House said Biden is seeking to limit political appointments to about 30% of his ambassador picks.
“Nobody, in fact, will be appointed by me based on anything they contributed,” Biden said last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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