WASHINGTON — A veteran diplomat who has served in Syria, Kuwait and Turkey has been chosen to return to the Middle East as the new U.S. ambassador to Libya, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Deborah K. Jones will fill a post that has been vacant since Ambassador Christopher Stevens died along with three other Americans in the Sept. 11 militant attacks on U.S. facilities in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
Jones' nomination coincided with the first official visit to Washington by Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who said Libyan authorities remain committed to bringing to justice the perpetrators of the attacks.
The embassy Jones would lead is located in the capital, Tripoli; there has been no U.S. diplomatic presence in Benghazi since the deadly assault on the consulate and a nearby CIA station.
The death of Stevens, the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in hostilities since 1979, led to sweeping changes in diplomatic protection, communication and oversight after an independent review board found that security was "grossly inadequate" at the Benghazi facility. The debacle is sure to resurface during the Senate confirmation hearings for Jones.
Jones is now a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington. She joined the State Department in 1982, according to her online biography at the institute, and served as ambassador to Kuwait from 2008 to 2011, as well as in various positions at U.S. embassies in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and Syria.