The U.S. Senate Saturday confirmed Marc Evans Knapper as the next ambassador to Vietnam, eight months after his nomination by President Joe Biden.
He was confirmed by the Senate via a voice vote, according to the Congress.gov website.
Information regarding Knapper’s tenure or when he will take office is yet to be announced by the U.S. State Department. He was nominated as ambassador to Vietnam in April.
Knapper is a career diplomat who’s the State Department’s current Deputy Assistant Secretary for Japan and Korea in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
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 earlier, the embassy’s deputy chief of mission.
He has also been the Director of the State Department’s Office of India Affairs and the Office of Japanese Affairs.
After completing 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 policy issues of the East Asian region and studying its languages and culture.
He speaks Vietnamese and led the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi from 2004 to 2007.
“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 has said his prime objective once he’s approved to be the ambassador to Vietnam would be to bolster relations between the two countries, including their bilateral security cooperation.
He said he believed that Vietnam was one of the U.S.’s strong partners in the region, and that both countries share interests and concerns on regional issues, including those regarding the South China Sea.
Knapper ha also said that he would focus on other key fields including commerce and investment and addressing war legacies.
Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in April that President Biden has displayed high regard for the position of ambassador to Vietnam and the two countries’ relations in nominating Knapper.
Carl Thayer, Emeritus Professor at The University of New South Wales, Australia, has expressed high regard for Knapper’s knowledge and understanding of Vietnam’s history, culture and political system. His experiences in South Korea and Japan, which have good relations with Vietnam, would also be a positive factor in his upcoming tenure, Thayer said.
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