australia

‘We will have a superb ambassador’: US embassy says amid Kennedy rumours

news, federal politics, United States, Joe Biden, Caroline Kennedy

The US Embassy in Canberra has responded to reports from Washington DC suggesting that a member of the famed Kennedy family is in the running as the next ambassador to Australia. Caroline Kennedy, daughter of JFK and former ambassador to Japan, was mentioned in AP and Axios reports as a possible choice for the most watched diplomatic post in Canberra. An embassy spokesman said he could not confirm who US President Joe Biden is considering for the position. “We cannot comment except to say that we are confident we will have a great ambassador to match the tremendous value we place on our alliance with Australia,” the spokesperson said. “In accordance with normal diplomatic practice, any candidate would first obtain approval from the Government of Australia.” The role has been vacant since former Ambassador Arthur Culvahouse resigned a day before Donald Trump’s presidential transfer to Joe Biden on Jan. 20. Four months into his administration, Biden has yet to announce nominees for the most prominent ambassadorial appointments typically reserved for political allies. The US Senate has been busy holding hearings and votes on top executive positions, including cabinet positions and deputy secretary and directorships of key agencies. It is not uncommon for ambassadorial positions normally reserved for political appointments to remain vacant for three to six months into a new president’s term, with top fundraisers for the presidential campaign often among the nominees. According to reports, Mr Biden was expected to approach candidates with offers over the weekend, with the first flock of ambassadors coming this week. Caroline Kennedy played the role in Japan during Barack Obama’s second term and was an early supporter of his presidential bid, along with her uncle, Ted Kennedy, who helped him get a head start on Hillary Clinton. Another Kennedy, Vicki, was on his radar for the representative to Western Europe, the reports said, both names are notable for not being big fundraisers for Biden’s presidential campaign. Other top diplomatic rumors include Eric Garcetti for the role in India, Rahm Emanuel for Japan, Ken Salazar for Mexico, Denise Bauer for France, Jane Hartley for Italy, David Cohen for Canada and Cindy McCain, daughter of Republican Senator John McCain, for UN Envoy functions, including leading the World Food Programme. IN OTHER NEWS: US State Department insiders say once nominations begin, they will come in batches. The Australian nomination is expected to be made in the first round, but officials at the embassy in Canberra are not sure when the news will come. The announcement will be made by Mr Biden right after private consultation with Australian government counterparts. The appointments as ambassadors to Australia and New Zealand are considered of great importance because of the real work involved, both as Five Eyes countries, and also because of their strategic importance in the Indo-Pacific region, which has been a priority for this White House. Former US Ambassador to Australia John Berry told The Canberra Times early this year that the White House would take time to find a “high quality” candidate as Mr Biden had made the Indo-Pacific a priority for his government. The two countries will mark 70 years of the ANZUS alliance this year, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison inviting Mr. Biden to visit in 2021. Political nominees in lieu of career diplomats are also expected in regionally important countries of China, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea. Korea, Philippines, Japan and India, as well as the US Envoy to ASEAN. A number of career diplomatic posts have already had nominations or the existing ambassador has remained in the role, such as the ambassadors to Indonesia and Malaysia. A career diplomat awaits confirmation as ambassador to Vietnam. The ambassador to Pacific islands, including Fiji, is typically a diplomatic career role, but the White House has kept that position open, suggesting it could become a political appointment. While waiting for an ambassador appointment, embassies are headed by their second-in-command, known as the Chargé d’Affaires. Charge d’affaires Michael Goldman is currently the top official of the US embassy in Canberra, having arrived in March last year. The US Embassy in Canberra is used to being run by the Chargé d’Affaires, with the top post left vacant for two years under the Trump administration. Biden’s White House has yet to name candidates for 345 senior executive positions, including ambassadorship, of the approximately 1,200 requiring Senate confirmation. The government is still working on nominations for deputy secretaries, undersecretaries and assistant secretaries of the administration, all of which are treated as political appointments requiring Senate confirmation, in what is considered one of the longest processes in a developed country. for a new leader to appoint their top executives. While the US Senate is currently 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris giving the casting vote, the White House has allowed the administration to take positions quickly. Only one cabinet candidate, in Neera Tanden of the Office for Budget Management, was withdrawn due to difficulties in getting confirmation from the Senate due to the amount of partisan comments on her social media accounts. Our journalists work hard to provide local, current news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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