Phillip Goldberg on his way to being U.S. envoy to Seoul
At a hearing in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, the Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved Goldberg’s nomination. The only procedure left is for the nomination be passed by a plenary session of the Senate.
Whether Goldberg will attend President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s inauguration ceremony remains unknown, because it's not known when the Senate will vote on the nomination.
At the hearing Wednesday, Goldberg called North Korea a “rogue regime” and expressed a hardline stance, saying that “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea” (CVID) must be achieved.
Goldberg served as the State Department’s coordinator for UN sanctions enforcement on North Korea from 2009 to 2010 during the Barack Obama administration. He oversaw the implementation of UN Resolution 1874 on North Korea. He was assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research from 2010 to 2013. Goldberg then served as acting ambassador to Chile, acting ambassador to Bolivia, ambassador to the Philippines, and has been serving as ambassador to Colombia since 2019, having started during the Trump administration.
Goldberg is a so-called career ambassador, the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service.
The U.S. government has given some 60 diplomats the title of career ambassador, which means they met a number of requirements including serving at least 15 years in a position of responsibility in a government agency and rendering exceptionally distinguished service to the government, according to the State Department. The president nominates ambassadors as career ambassadors, and the Senate confirms the nominations.
Goldberg’s experiences as a negotiator date back to the Dayton Peace Conference, which put an end to the Bosnian War in 1995. Goldberg, as special assistant to top negotiator and ambassador Richard Holbrooke, was a member of the American negotiating team in the lead-up to the peace conference and chief of staff for the American delegation.
If Goldberg is appointed ambassador to Korea, it will be the first time in seven years that a career diplomat takes the job. The last two American ambassadors in Seoul were Mark Lippert, who was chief of staff to the Secretary of Defense at the time of nomination, and Harry Harris, who was head of the U.S. Pacific Command before being named ambassador.
The U.S. ambassadorship to Korea has been vacant since Harris left the position in January 2021.
BY LIM JEONG-WON [email@example.com]