The White House said on Friday that President Joe Biden intends to nominate Michael Ratney as the next US ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Ratney is currently serving as the acting deputy director of the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI). He was recently the chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
Ratney has also previously served as the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Qatar as well as the acting deputy assistant secretary for the Levant and Israel and Palestinian Affairs. The veteran diplomat was US special envoy for Syria and served in Mexico City, Baghdad, Beirut, Casablanca and Bridgetown.
He speaks Arabic and French. After his nomination is sent to Senate, Ratney will have to be confirmed.
The US did not have an ambassador in Saudi Arabia for two years after former President Donald Trump took office. He then picked John Abizaid to be the envoy. The post has been vacant since he left in January 2021.
US-Saudi relations have dipped since Biden took office, froze arms sales to Riyadh, and lifted the terror designation off the Iran-backed Houthis.
But efforts have been made to bolster ties between the two countries, and earlier this week, an official at the Saudi Embassy in Washington said the relationship was “historic and remains strong.”
Also, this week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reiterated the importance of US-Saudi bilateral ties during a virtual meeting with her Saudi counterpart.
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