Bush Names New US Envoy to Armenia

WASHINGTON DC (RFE/RL)–The number two figure at the US embassy in Russia–one of the most important American diplomatic missions abroad–has been nominated by President George W. Bush to be the next ambassador to Armenia–the White House announced on Tuesday.

Bush chose John Ordway–a career diplomat who has served as deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Moscow since 1999–to be envoy in Yerevan. The nomination is subject to the approval of the US Senate.

American Ambassador Michael Lemmon has held the post for nearly three years. Lemmon–who once said that Armenia can become an "economic engine of the Caucasus" if it continues reforms and normalizes relations with all neighbors–is expected to be replaced before the end of the year.

A graduate of Stanford University and Hastings College of Law–Ordway joined the US Foreign Service in 1975–and worked in various State Department divisions before taking up positions at US missions in former Czechoslovakia–the ex-USSR in and the NATO headquarters in Brussels. His last diplomatic spell in Moscow began in 1996.

In the absence of Ambassador to Russia James Collins–Ordway was left to play a major role in handling a Cold War-style Russian-American spy scandal last March. Summoned to the foreign ministry building in Moscow–Ordway was the first US official to hear Russia’s first retaliatory move over the expulsion of 50 of its own diplomats from the United States. He was informed of the ouster of four American diplomats from Moscow and "other measures to stop illegal activities of official US representatives in Russia," a ministry statement said at the time.

Ordway will likely become the first ambassador to move into the new US embassy building in Yerevan. State Department has requested up to $100 million for its upcoming construction from the US government–citing security concerns. The current tightly guarded embassy building is located in a densely populated area of the city center and does not meet a State Department regulation that embassies be situated at least 100 feet from the nearest street.

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