UNITED STATES President Barack Obama announced the nomination yesterday of Glyn Townsend Davies, the former US special representative for North Korea Policy, as the new ambassador to Thailand.
Davies, a career diplomat at the US State Department, is currently a senior adviser at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, a position he has held since 2014, according to a White House statement.
After a six-month vacancy at the American mission, the nomination of Davies ended speculation that Washington intended to leave the position vacant to show disapproval of the military coup last May.
Kristie Kenney, who ended her tenure as ambassador in November, is now deputy assistant secretary for public affairs and public diplomacy at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
She was regarded as one of the most colourful American diplomats while serving in the position from 2011 to 2014, a time of deep division in Thai politics.
Conservative elitists considered her comments on Thai politics as “interference in internal affairs” and staged demonstrations against US policy in front of the US Embassy on several occasions during the height of the political conflict.
The US Embassy in Bangkok is currently led by charge d’affaires W Patrick Murphy, who has kept a low profile but kept the US position on Thai political developments.
Despite a strong reaction to the May 22 coup that toppled the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Washington has maintained that general relations with Thailand have been normal.
Delay related to procedure
After the coup, Washington “froze” military assistance and scaled down some cooperation on security and military matters, such as the annual Cobra Gold war games, while criticising Thailand and calling for an early restoration of democracy and proper rights practices.
The military government of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has reacted to pressure from the US and other Western countries by cosying up to China and Russia.
US officials said the six-month delay in installing the new ambassador to Thailand was mostly related to procedure and personal resources in Washington, rather than |political developments in Thailand.
Davies’ nomination needs to be confirmed by the US Senate, but the Thai Cabinet approved the nomination of Davies in late March, according to a Foreign Ministry source.
Davies has a solid background on East Asian affairs. He served as principal deputy assistant secretary of state and deputy assistant secretary of state at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2006 to 2009. He was Special Representative for North Korea Policy from 2012 to 2014.
His areas of concern also include democracy and human rights.
He was senior adviser at the Foreign Service Institute’s Leadership and Management School from 2005 to 2006, and acting assistant secretary at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in 2005.
He served as deputy spokesman of the State Department and deputy assistant secretary for Public Affairs from 1995 to 1997, and director of the State Department Operations Center from 1992 to 1994.
Earlier, he was posted to Australia, France, the United Kingdom and Zaire.
Davies has a Bachelor’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University and a Masters in security from the National Defense University.