Fri, May 17, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Russel mooted for Asia-Pacific hotseat

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

US National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs Danny Russel is due to be nominated as the next US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs at the US Department of State.

Russel is set to replace the popular and highly respected Kurt Campbell, who resigned earlier this year.

Russel’s nomination was widely expected.

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced his “intent” to nominate Russel.

According to some Washington sources the announcement was delayed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was not enthusiastic about Obama’s choice for the job.

As assistant secretary of state for East Asia, Russel would be a major player in US-Taiwan relations and could help to shape policy.

A career member of the US foreign service, Russel was a former director of Japanese Affairs at the US Department of State.

He has also served as deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in the Netherlands and at the US embassy in Cyprus.

Former US think tank RAND Corp analyst Evan Mederios is expected to take over Russel’s job on the White House National Security staff.

Before he can move to the Department of State, Russel must be confirmed by the US Senate where Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell — backed by most Republicans — is waging a bitter conflict with Obama over a wide range of other issues.

McConnell is thought likely to block all new Obama nominees.

However, insiders believe that US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may be able to “tweak” the parliamentary rules to force a vote on the floor.

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