Counselor

Share

outgoing US Ambassador to Brazil Tom Shannon is likely to get tapped to become Counselor to Secretary of State John Kerry, senior US officials tell the Back Channel.

The job, currently held by Heather Higginbottom, is expected to open up if she is nominated to become Deputy Secretary of State for management and resources. The Back Channel previously reported that Higginbottom, former deputy OMB chief and White House deputy domestic policy advisor, is being strongly considered for the second Deputy Secretary post, previously held by Tom Nides and Jack Lew, and she appears to be the lead candidate.

Shannon declined to comment. The Back Channel previously reported that he was under consideration to be the next US Ambassador to Turkey, but plans have since changed, officials said this week.

US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone, Jr. is expected to stay on in Ankara for another year.

Secretary Kerry is expected to travel to Brazil this month

Shortlists: Higginbottom mulled for 2nd DepSecState; Tom Shannon after Brazil

The White House and Secretary of State John Kerry are considering nominating State Department counselor and former OMB deputy director Heather Higginbottom as the next Deputy Secretary of State for management and resources, several current and former U.S. officials say. The second Deputy Secretary slot, currently vacant, was previously held by Tom Nides and Jack Lew, now Treasury Secretary.

“Kerry recruited Heather from OMB with an eye towards putting her in a confirm-able position soon, but he didn’t want to delay her arrival by several months during his transition period,” an administration official, speaking not for attribution, told the Back Channel Wednesday.

“She started out with the confidence of the Secretary and the President and hit the ground running as Counselor, engaging with senior leaders at the State Department,” the official said. “I think it’s safe to say that this would be a hit across the board given her budget experience and relationships and her understanding now of the Department.”

Higginbottom served in the Obama White House as deputy director of OMB from 2011 to 2013, and as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy from 2009-2010. She previously served as legislative director for then Senator Kerry from 1999 until 2007, and on Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. She didn’t respond to a query Wednesday.

Tom Shannon After Brazil

With his successor nominated, US Ambassador to Brazil Tom Shannon is heading back to Washington soon. While his next interim assignment is unclear, some current and former U.S. officials tell the Back Channel that the Obama administration is considering nominating Shannon to be the next U.S. ambassador to Turkey, possibly in the fall or in 2014. Sources cautioned however that plans could change depending on other moves afoot in the upper ranks of the State Department bureaucracy.

Shannon said he expects to head next to Washington, but couldn’t comment beyond that. President Obama recently nominated Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Liliana Ayalde, a former ambassador to Paraguay and senior USAID official, to succeed him in Brazil.

Continue reading

Blame it on Rio? Israeli delegate says Iran’s Ahmadinejad waved at them

Much to their surprise, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly nodded and waved to the Israeli delegation as he passed by them to address the Rio+20 United Nations Sustainable Development summit held in Brazil June 20-22.

“To the surprise of the Foreign Ministry officials, when the lunatic and his people rose from their seats, they broke with tradition and passed by us rather than go through a detour,” Israeli Knesset Member Shama  Hacohen wrote on his Facebook page, the Algemeiner newspaper reports.

“Despite the sign that says ‘Israel’ on my desk and the lapel pin on my jacket, he nodded and smiled toward us,” Hacohen wrote, explaining, according to the paper, that “the Iranians’ normal procedure is to take a detour around Israeli representatives, instead of walking past them directly.”

Meantime, Ahmadinejad was taking heat from Iranian lawmakers for not leaving Brazil after reportedly being snubbed by Brazil’s president. Banners saying “Ahmadinejad go home” greeted the controversial Iranian leader upon his arrival in the city June 20th, and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff reportedly declined to meet with the Iranian president, who said last week that he will leave politics after his second presidential term expires next year.

“After the disrespect Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was met with in the airport of Brazil, he should have returned to Tehran, MP Avaz Heydarpour of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee said, Mehr reported,” Iran’s Trend news wrote. Continue reading