Friday, November 20, 2009

Obama names envoys to Singapore, Philippines

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama on Thursday named two ambassadors to Southeast Asia, tapping a close political ally as envoy to Singapore and nominating a career diplomat to the Philippines.

Obama named David Adelman, a state senator in Georgia and a force behind the president's record-breaking fund-raising in last year's election, to be ambassador to Singapore.

Adelman chaired the Democratic candidate's campaign in Georgia, a Republican-leaning southern state which Obama turned competitive but fell short by five points.

A lawyer, Adelman represented presidential contender Al Gore in his legal battles against eventual winner George W. Bush in the 2000 race.

Adelman has also been active in initiatives to prevent domestic violence and spearheaded a Georgia law prohibiting state contracts to companies seen as benefiting from the bloodshed in Sudan's parched Darfur region.

For the Philippines, Obama named Harry K. Thomas, Jr., a career foreign service officer who served as ambassador to Bangladesh from 2003 to 2005. He has also been posted in India, Nigeria, Peru and Zimbabwe.

The nominations, which require confirmation by the US Senate, come after high-level US visits to the two US-friendly nations.

Obama visited Singapore last week as part of a four-nation Asia tour, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped in the Philippines.

US ambassadors generally step down when a president leaves office. Obama is still filling positions more than a year after his election, with nominees subject to increasingly tough scrutiny.

Despite his vows for a cleaner government, Obama has tapped major fund-raisers as his ambassadors to close US allies including Australia, Britain, France and Japan.

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