WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has appointed a diplomat to the newly created post of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs which will analyse and find effective remedies to hostage issues.
Jim O’Brien, a seasoned diplomat, was appointed as the First Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs after government’s comprehensive hostage policy review which was completed earlier this summer.
“That review recognised the need for fully coordinated action across US agencies in responding to hostage situations and to the military, diplomatic, legal, and humanitarian issues that such situations generate,” Secretary of State John Kerry said.
Kerry said that O’Brien is exactly the right person for a job that demands a high level of diplomatic experience and the ability to analyse and find effective remedies to complex problems.
“In his new position, Jim will be focused on one over riding goal: using diplomacy to secure the safe return of Americans held hostage overseas,” Kerry added.
To that end, he will be in close contact with the families of American hostages, meet with foreign leaders in support of our hostage recovery efforts, advise on options to enhance those efforts, participate in strategy meetings with other senior US policymakers, and represent the US internationally on hostage-related issues.
The new Special Presidential Envoy will work closely with the inter agency Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell that was also created as a result of the hostage policy review.
O’Brien is currently vice chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy and business advisory firm.
Previously, he served as Special Presidential Envoy for the Balkans in the late 1990s, helping to chart a path out of the military and political strife that divided the region.
He also served as Deputy Director of the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning and as a senior adviser to UN Ambassador and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
He helped to formulate the 1995 Dayton Accords, which ended the war in Bosnia; and guided US support for the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which helped bring to justice persons responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.