Friday , September 29 2023

US confirms career diplomat as ambassador to Vietnam

The U.S.’s Senate on Saturday confirmed Marc Evans Knapper as the Ambassador to Vietnam, eight months after his nomination by President Joe Biden.

He was confirmed by the Senate via Voice Vote, according to the website.

Information regarding Knapper’s tenure or when he took office has yet to be announced by the U.S. Department of State.

He was nominated to become Ambassador to Vietnam back in April. He is a career diplomat who’s the current Deputy Assistant Secretary for Japan and Korea in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Department of State.

Before assuming that position, Knapper was the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea, in 2017 and 2018, and prior to that he was the Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission. Earlier, he was Director of the State Department’s Office of India Affairs and Director of the State Department’s Office of Japanese Affairs.

Having earned his B.A. from Princeton University and his M.A. from the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Knapper has spent almost his entire career, spanning over 25 years, working on the policy issues of the East Asian region and studying its languages and culture.

He speaks Vietnamese and for three years led the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi.

“This extensive and substantive experience in the region, coupled with his demonstrated ability to lead large interagency teams as well as policy-oriented offices, makes him an excellent candidate to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” according to the Department of State.

Knapper said his prime objective once he’s approved to be the Ambassador to Vietnam would be to bolster relations between Vietnam and the U.S., including their bilateral security cooperation.

He believes Vietnam is one of the U.S.’s strong partners in the region, and that both countries share interests and concerns regarding regional issues, including those on the South China Sea.

Knapper said he also wants to contribute to the other fields like commerce and investment and war legacy.

Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in April said Biden has high regards for the position of Ambassador to Vietnam and the two countries’ relations when he nominated Knapper.

Carl Thayer, Emeritus Professor at The University of New South Wales, said he also highly regarded Knapper’s knowledge and understanding on Vietnam’s history, culture and political system. Knapper’s experiences in South Korea and Japan, which have good relations with Vietnam, would also be a positive indicator for his upcoming tenure.

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