Senate panel advances US ambassador nominees to UAE, Kuwait

WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on Thursday to advance President Joe Biden’s nominees for ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait, a Senate aide confirmed to Al-Monitor. 

The nominations will now go to the full US Senate chamber for approval. 

The panel voted to approve the nomination of Karen Sasahara for US Ambassador to Kuwait. Sasahara most recently served as deputy assistant secretary of state for North Africa and before that as chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Jordan. 

Senators also approved Martina Anna Tkadlec Strong, Biden’s choice for ambassador to the UAE. Strong has served as the chargé d’affaires of the US embassy in Saudi Arabia and in senior roles at the US missions in Bulgaria and Iraq. 

Also clearing the Senate panel on Thursday was the nominee for the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, Elizabeth Richard. Her previous postings include as US ambassador to Lebanon and deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

In her confirmation hearing in May 2022, Richard said she would focus on reducing the threat posed by the Islamic State and prioritize the repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters from Syria. 

Sasahara, Strong and Richards were among a crop of ambassador picks whose bids were not confirmed by the previous Congress and were renominated by Biden this January.

Last month, the US Senate confirmed Michael Ratney as US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling an ambassador post that had remained vacant for more than two years. His nomination had been held up by Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who was seeking more information from the Biden administration on how Riyadh helps its citizens accused of violent crimes flee the United States. 

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