Appointment RUMINT

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The White House is expected to notify Congress as soon as tonight that it is re-nominating Carlos Pascual to be Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, sources tell the Back Channel.

Probably not coincidentally, Pascual is due to join National Security Advisor Tom Donilon at the launch Wednesday of a new Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy.

A former US ambassador to Mexico and Ukraine, Pascual has been in the acting job for over a year, and the young bureau is eager to get the assistant secretary in place. His nomination last year was put on hold, rumored to be by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), and it’s unclear as yet whether he or others plan to maintain it. Pascual recently married the daughter of Francisco Rojas, the head of Mexico’s CFE electricity company and PRI politician, officials said.

Near East: Two US officials say they now believe that Stuart Jones, the U.S. Ambassador to Jordan and former Deputy Ambassador to Iraq, may be leading the pack of candidates to succeed Beth Jones as Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs. Other possibilities mentioned are US Ambassador to Iraq Robert Stephen Beecroft, as well Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, and Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone.

Former Kerry SFRC Middle East advisor Perry Cammack has his last day on the committee on Friday, and then heads in a week or so to the State Department, where he is expected to work in the Policy Plamning shop. (One official suggested he might be a good candidate to succeed Mara Rudman as assistant USAID administrator on the Middle East. Rudman left earlier this year.)

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland has handed off her spokeswoman duties, following Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to the G8 and Asia this month, and is expected to be nominated after a short rest to become Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, succeeding Philip Gordon, who moved to the NSS.

Word in the department is that Douglas Lute, who has served as both the Bush and Obama White House AfPak advisor, may be nominated to be the State Department special envoy on Afghanistan, succeeding Marc Grossman. (Updae: A colleague in Brussels and another department official suggest Lute may be up to succeed Ivo Daalder as US Ambassador to NATO. By one account, Lute was asked earlier but wasn’t sure at that time he wanted to move his family; but his wife, Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Jane Holl Lute announced she was stepping down earlier his month,, so perhaps that makes it easier for the family to go.)

Anne Witkowsky, the State Department Deputy Coordinator for Homeland Security and Multilateral Affairs, is said to be a serious contender to possibly be tapped to succeed Dan Benjamin as head of the State Department Counterterrorism Bureau.

Asia: NSS Senior Director for Asia Danny Russel, as has been widely reported, is expected to be nominated soon to be Assistant Secretary of State for Asia. Obama’s former foreign policy advisor Mark Lippert, most recently and briefly Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia, was named last week as chief of staff to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. One possibility is that his deputy Peter Lavoy might succeed him, Chris Nelson and Al Kamen reported this week.

(Photo: Reuters)