Godec confirmed as new US envoy

Godec confirmed as new US envoy

Appointment marks return to tradition of posting foreign service professional to Bangkok

Robert F Godec, the new ambassador to Thailand, has held a number of positions in the US diplomatic service, including ambassador to Kenya. (Photo: US Embassy Nairobi)
Robert F Godec, the new ambassador to Thailand, has held a number of positions in the US diplomatic service, including ambassador to Kenya. (Photo: US Embassy Nairobi)

Robert F Godec has been officially confirmed as the next US ambassador to Thailand, according to The Congressional Record, the official publication of the US federal legislature.

The post has been vacant since the departure in January 2021 of Michael DeSombre, a businessman and political appointee of former president Donald Trump. 

Mr Godec was nominated by President Joe Biden in April and confirmed by the Senate via a voice vote on Aug 4, the Record reported. His appointment marks a return to the tradition of naming a career foreign service professional to the embassy in Bangkok.

Currently, Michael Heath, Charge d’ Affaires, is the senior official at the embassy. It is not known when Mr Godec will officially take office.

Prior to his nomination for the Thailand post, Mr Godec served as the senior coordinator for Afghanistan in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration at the US Department of State. Previously, he was Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs and served as Ambassador to Kenya from 2013 to 2019.

Mr Godec has also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and was Deputy Coordinator for the Transition in Iraq. He served as Acting Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister Counsellor for Economic Affairs at the US Embassy in South Africa.  Other positions included Assistant Office Director for Thailand and Burma in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Director for Southeast Asian Affairs at the Office of the US Trade Representative.

Mr Godec holds a Master’s degree in international relations from Yale University and a Bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. He also speaks French and German.

During his testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 13, he declared his intention to track Thailand’s record on human rights issues, especially freedom of expression. He said he also hopes to help the kingdom resolve the ongoing crisis in Myanmar.

He said he would press Bangkok to reduce its dependence on oil and gas from Myanmar, where the ruling military junta is committing “horrifying atrocities”, Radio Free Asia reported.

“We are seeking ways with the Thais to increase the pressure on the Burmese regime. All options are on the table, that includes further action in the oil and gas sector,” he told the Senate panel.

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