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Russian Expert Named U.S. Envoy to Seoul

Posted September. 03, 2005 08:34,   


The White House announced Thursday that President George W. Bush nominated Alexander Vershbow (53, picture), former U.S. envoy to Moscow, to be the U.S. ambassador to Seoul, a post which has been vacant since April this year.

If confirmed by the Senate, the ambassador-designate will take the Seoul post as early as September.

He received a B.A. in Russian and East European Studies from Yale College and a Master`s Degree in International Relations from Columbia University, and started working for the U.S. State Department in 1977. Serving as ambassador to Moscow from July 2001 to the end of last year, he was acknowledged to be a Russian and East European affairs expert and to have substantial knowledge in non-proliferation and arms reduction issues.

Vershbow`s past posts include Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (1993-94), Special Assistant to President and Senior Director for European affairs at the National Security Council (1994-97), and U.S. ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (1998-2001).

Serving as an ambassador to NATO, he was deeply involved in the expansion of NATO and the improvement of U.S.-Russia relations after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the State Department said.

Although he has not been in charge of Korean peninsula affairs, he is known to have expressed keen interest in North Korean nuclear and missile issues during his service in Russia.

In 1990, he was awarded the Anatoly Sharansky Freedom Award by the Union of Councils of Soviet Jews for his work in advancing the cause of Jewish emigration from the USSR. He is also recognized as a human rights advocate.

Fluent in Russian, he is also a passionate drummer. He and his wife Lisa Vershbow, a jewelry designer, have two sons.

Soon-Taek Kwon maypole@donga.com