President Obama on Thursday asked the Senate to approve his hand-picked choice to lead Asia policy at the State Department.
Danny Russel, a special assistant to the president and the senior Asia hand on the National Security Council, was picked despite Secretary of State John Kerry's reported preference for someone from outside the White House. The nomination is the first signal that vacancies at the top levels of the State Department – including the Near East, Europe, Africa and Diplomatic Security bureaus – may finally begin to be filled three and a half months after Kerry arrived at State.
Russel replaces Kurt Campbell, who resigned in February. Joseph Yun has been serving as acting assistant secretary since then.
Russel served as the National Security Council's point man on Japan and the two Koreas from 2009 to 2011. Before that, he was director of the Office of Japanese Affairs at the Department of State and also served as U.S. consul general in Osaka-Kobe and deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassies in the Netherlands and Cyprus.
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