Former Sen. Tom Udall is Biden's pick as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa

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Former Sen. Tom Udall is President Joe Biden’s pick to be ambassador to New Zealand and the Independent State of Samoa, the White House said Friday.

Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico, was among four people Biden announced as nominees. Udall said in a statement that he has dedicated his life to public service and is honored to be nominated to this post “working with one of our closest partners and allies” to face challenges like Covid-19 and threats from China.

“This is a critical time for our country and my wife Jill and I are humbled and honored for the opportunity to continue to serve our country, and if confirmed, look forward to representing the United States in this important diplomatic post,” Udall said in the statement, per the White House.

The two-term senator did not seek a third term in the Senate in 2020. Before that, he served in the House for 10 years. The former senator noted that he served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "focusing on policies that promote democracy, international development, and conservation.” He also was previously the attorney general of New Mexico and an assistant United States attorney.

Earlier this week, Biden announced Jeff Flake, a former ant-Trump Republican senator, as his nominee for ambassador to Turkey. The president started his term with a large number of ambassadorships across the world to fill, and many key posts remain vacant.

Other picks announced Friday include Caryn McClelland, the minister counselor for economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in London, as nominee to Brunei. Michael Murphy, a deputy assistant secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, will be Biden’s nominee to serve as ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Howard Van Vranken, the executive director and deputy executive secretary at the Department of State in D.C., is the president’s pick as ambassador to the Republic of Botswana. All of Biden’s nominees await Senate confirmation.

In addition to the ambassador picks, the White House announced Biden's intent to nominate Laurie Locascio as undersecretary for Standards and Technology at the Department of Commerce, and Andrew Hunter as assistant secretary of the Air Force, Acquisition, Technology, Logistics at the Department of Defense. The president also intends to nominate James Rodriguez as assistant secretary for Veterans Employment and Training at the Department of Labor.

Earlier Friday, The Washington Post reported that Biden will choose Jane Hartley, the former U.S. ambassador to France, as his nominee to be ambassador to the United Kingdom, but Hartley was not on Friday’s nominee roster and her nomination has not yet been announced by the White House.

CNN reported that at least two people, including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, turned down the U.K. post.

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