The United States hopes its new ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul will make serious efforts to further deepen bilateral relations, U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday at McFaul’s swearing-in ceremony.
“There could hardly be a better time for you to serve in this position, and we are thrilled to be able to make it official today,” Clinton told McFaul.
“This administration has placed a particular emphasis on working together with Russia, one of the most complex and consequential relationships we have with any nation in the world,” she said.
“We have worked closely together on a range of critical issues, from nuclear nonproliferation to combating terrorism and drug trafficking to addressing the effects of climate change,” Clinton said.
She added that Russia - as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a member of the G8, G20, the Mideast Quartet, the P5+1 talks on Iran, the six-party talks on North Korea - is “intimately involved” with some of the United States’ “most important diplomatic challenges.”
“And our ability to work well with our Russian partners is absolutely critical to the kind of world that we want to see… for Russian and American children alike. And that’s why having a strong ambassador in Moscow is so important,” she said.
Clinton praised McFaul as a great thinker and writer of democracy and said few Americans “know Russia or democracy better than Mike McFaul.”
“I can think of no better representative of our values and our interest in a strong, politically vibrant, open, democratic Russia, as well as a deepening U.S.-Russian partnership,” the state secretary said.
McFaul said his work will require a more intense dialogue to overcome differences between the countries.
President Barack Obama nominated McFaul, who is considered one of the architects of the "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations, for the ambassador's post in September.
Prior to his current nomination, McFaul, 48, was a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director, Russia and Eurasia Affairs, for the White House National Security Staff. He speaks fluent Russian.
McFaul was born and raised in Montana. He received his B.A. in International Relations and Slavic Languages and his M.A. in Slavic and East European Studies from Stanford University in 1986.