The US Senate has approved Marc Evans Knapper as US ambassador to Vietnam, months after he was nominated for the position by President Joe Biden.
The confirmation took place on December 18 when the US Senate directly elected to approve a series of foreign diplomatic posts, including Mr. Knapper, currently the US deputy assistant secretary of state for Japan and Korea in East Asia and Pacific Department of the US State Department, will be the US ambassador to Hanoi, according to Politico and CNN.
Information about the duration of the term as well as the date on which Mr. Knapper will take office as the US ambassador to Vietnam has not been announced by the US State Department.
Mr. Knapper, whose father is a Vietnam veteran, was nominated by President Biden to head the US diplomatic mission in the Southeast Asian country in mid-April this year.
At a hearing at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in mid-July, Mr. Knapper laid out a plan to develop the relationship between the US and Vietnam in four areas including security, trade and investment, war legacy, and humanitarian issues, as well as people-to-people exchanges.
Mr. Knapper – who speaks Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese – pledged to promote the security relationship between the two former enemies, saying that both Hanoi and Washington believe there is no “greater challenge than the threat from China, including the South China Sea issue where both Vietnam and China have overlapping claims.
However, according to Mr. Kapper, there are also challenges hindering the development of relations between the US and Vietnam to new heights. He said at a hearing on July 13 that he would seek a fairer trading market with Vietnam and urged Hanoi to respect human rights.
Mr. Knapper, who lived and worked at the US Embassy in Hanoi from 2004-2007, will replace Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink, who was nominated by President Donald Trump after Ambassador Ted Osius resigned in 2017 to protest the deportation of Vietnamese immigrants who came to the US before the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in 1995 by the Trump administration.
Mr. Osius, in an interview with VOA on the occasion of the release of a book on reconciliation between the US and Vietnam in October, highly appreciated the President’s nomination of Mr. Knapper as the 8th US ambassador to Vietnam. According to Mr. Osius, who serves as the 6th US ambassador to Hanoi, Mr. Knapper, with his experience in Vietnam and Asia, would be a good choice for further developing the relationship between the US and Vietnam in his upcoming term.
Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC, said in April that President Biden had shown his appreciation for the position of ambassador in Vietnam and relations between the two countries when nominating Mr. Knapper.
Mr. Knapper, a Princeton University graduate with distinction, has more than 25 years of professional experience in foreign policy and diplomacy, during which he has spent many years researching policy and cultural issues as well as languages in East Asia, according to the US State Department. In addition to working in Vietnam, he was also appointed as deputy US ambassador to South Korea and served as Chargé d’affaires in Seoul from 2017 to 2018. He worked as deputy head of the Political Department of the US embassy in Tokyo before becoming the deputy assistant secretary of state.
The State Department said that Knapper’s “extensive and substantive regional experience and ability to lead large interdisciplinary groups and policy-making offices” make Mr. Knapper “an excellent candidate” for the US ambassador post to Vietnam.