Trump taps diplomatic veteran to be ambassador to Egypt

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization House Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Artist behind gold toilet offered to Trump sells banana duct-taped to a wall for 0,000 MORE has tapped a State Department veteran to be the next ambassador to Egypt, taking the first step to filling a key post with one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East.

Jonathan Cohen, whose nomination the White House announced Friday evening, currently serves as acting U.S. representative to the United Nations and acting U.S. representative to the United Nations Security Council.

He was the deputy U.S. representative for the second half of last year and previously served as a deputy assistant secretary of State, overseeing European and Eurasian affairs from 2016 to 2018.

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His other postings include deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, acting deputy chief of mission and minister counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Paris and deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Egypt’s ambassadorship has been vacant since 2017 when Robert Stephen Beecroft left his post. Thomas Goldberger currently serves as chargé d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

Washington has a close security relationship with Cairo and is heavily invested in Egypt’s stability after it was thrown into tumult during the Arab Spring. The country is currently battling armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula, including some with connections to ISIS.

“The United States and Egypt share a strong partnership based on mutual interest in Middle East peace and stability, economic opportunity, and regional security. Promoting a stable, prosperous Egypt, where the government protects the basic rights of its citizens and fulfills the aspirations of the Egyptian people, will continue to be a core objective of U.S. policy,” the State Department says on its website, noting that it has also given Egypt over $40 billion in military and $30 billion in economic assistance since 1979. 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a former top Egyptian Army official who took power in 2014 vowing to restore order during a chaotic revolution, visited the White House earlier this week.

Though Sisi has drawn international criticism for his harsh crackdown on political opponents and drastic expansion of his own power, President Trump praised the strongman during their meeting this week, saying “he’s doing a great job.”

“It’s a great honor to be with President El-Sisi, a friend—a great friend—of Egypt. And we have very special things happening. Our relationship has never been stronger. And we’re working with Egypt on many different fronts, including military and trade.”