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Profile: Richard G. Olson – US ambassador to Pakistan

July 18, 2012

Richard G. Olson - File photo
Richard G. Olson - File photo

Following the resignation of Cameron Munter from his position as the US ambassador to Pakistan, President Barack Obama has appointed Richard G. Olson to the office.

Before he officially takes over at the office of the ambassador in Pakistan, Olson will need confirmation by the Senate. He would serve in Pakistan as his country prepares to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan in 2014, a transition that also profoundly impacts rocky relations with Pakistan.

Munter, who had been an advocate within the Obama administration for reconciliation with Pakistan, resigned in May after a turbulent tenure in which US forces secretly killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. People close to him said he was frustrated that the CIA and Pentagon took the lead on Pakistan policy, with Munter’s job effectively to contain the fallout.

After a half-year standoff, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this month said sorry to Pakistan for the deaths of 24 troops in an air raid near the Afghanistan border, leading Islamabad to reopen key supply routes.

Olson, the nominee to be ambassador to Pakistan, is a veteran of the State Department with 30-year experience, who served as the envoy to the United Arab Emirates from 2008 to 2011.

Until last month, Olson served in the US embassy in Kabul as the coordinator for development and economic affairs, a key priority for Washington as the United States prepares to withdraw its forces.

Olson joined the US Department of State in 1982, with an undergraduate degree in law, history and society from Brown University. Besides his recent appointments in the UAE and Afghanistan, Olson has also served tenures in Mexico, Uganda, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Iraq.

Olson has also served as the deputy chief of mission at the United States Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato).

In United States he was stationed to work on various assignments including state department operations Nato desk and the office of Iraqi affairs.

Olson received various accolades for his services to the United States. His awards include, Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the State Department’s Superior Honour Award and the Secretary of Defense’s Exceptional Civilian Service Award for his services in Iraq.