U.S. ambassador to Brazil called back to oversee the Foreign Service

August 17, 2011

Josh Rogin – Foreign Policy, 08/15/2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is temporarily bringing back U.S. ambassador to Brazil Tom Shannon to serve as acting undersecretary of state for political affairs while the State Department awaits the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominee for the post, Wendy Sherman.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed to The Cable that Shannon will begin work next week as the temporary successor to Bill Burns, who was promoted to replace Jim Steinberg as deputy secretary of state. Shannon, a well-respected career member of the Foreign Service, served as assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs from 2005 to 2009 and was the National Security Council senior director for the same region from 2003 to 2005.

Shannon will lead an office that has oversight of the State Department’s regional bureaus and has responsibility for the day-to-day management of regional and bilateral issues. In a way, Shannon’s return to Foggy Bottom temporarily solves two problems for Clinton, as he also will be able to keep an eye on the western hemisphere bureau, which remains leaderless since the May departure of Arturo Valenzuela.

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