The US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice is to become President Barack Obama's top national security advisor. At the UN she will be replaced by Samantha Power, a US human rights expert.
President Barack Obama reshuffled his foreign policy team on Wednesday by shifting Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice to the White House to become his national security advisor. Rice will replace Tom Donilon, who departs in early July.
Announcing the reshuffle on Wednesday, Obama described Rice as a "tough" diplomat who "puts her country first."
"As our ambassador to the UN, Susan has been a tireless advocate in advancing our interests," Obama said. "She's reinvigorated American diplomacy in New York."
Obama pointed to Rice's work on sanctions against Iran and North Korea, defense of Israel, and efforts on Libya, Ivory Coast and South Sudan.
White House shakeup
Rice had been tipped to become US secretary of state In the wake of Obama's re-election last year. She withdrew from consideration, however, after Senate Republicans objected to her allegedly playing down an Islamist attack in Benghazi, Libya, last September. Four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Rice's appointment as national security advisor will save Obama a congressional fight because the White House post does not require Senate confirmation, unlike the job of secretary of state.
Senator John McCain, one of Rice's harshest Republican critics, said on Wednesday he disagreed with her appointment but would "make every effort" to work with her on important matters.
Tom Donilon is to stay on as security adviser until early July, when Obama wraps up overseas trips to Europe and Africa.
Donilon has overseen a US foreign policy shift that has placed increasing emphasis on US relationships in the Asia-Pacific regions. Obama praised Donilon for efforts to wind down US military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Power - human rights expert
Obama also nominated Samantha Power, a former White House adviser and human rights expert to replace Rice as US ambassador at the UN. That nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.
Power won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for her book "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide." It examined US foreign policy towards genocide in the 20th century.
The White House shakeup comes as Obama grapples with numerous foreign policy challenges, from Syria to China's rise on the world stage. That will be underscored by Obama's meeting later this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California.
ipj/ccp (AP, Reuters)