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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Trump names hostage negotiator his fourth NSA

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he has “worked long & hard” with O’Brien and that “he will do a great job!”

world Updated: Sep 18, 2019 22:54 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
WASHINGTON
Trump’s announcement about O’Brien comes a week after he ousted John Bolton from the national security adviser’s post, citing policy disagreements.
Trump’s announcement about O’Brien comes a week after he ousted John Bolton from the national security adviser’s post, citing policy disagreements.(HT image)
         

US President Donald Trump has picked Robert C O’Brien, who is currently serving as the state department’s chief hostage negotiator, as his fourth National Security Adviser.

“I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O’Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor,” the president wrote on Twitter. “I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!”

O’Brien succeeds John Bolton, who was fired by the president over growing differences pertaining to key foreign policy issues such as talks with North Korea and Afghanistan and relations with Iran. Also, Bolton’s confrontational style had alienated him from key members of the administration, chiefly Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

O’Brien’s appointment was backed by Pompeo, according to reports, in a sign of the secretary of state’s growing stature on national security issues, making him a towering first among the equals, who would include the secretary of defense Mark Esper, the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who is on his way out, and CIA director Gina Haspel.

O’Brien is a lawyer by training and the website of the California law firm he co-founded says he has worked previously for two secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton and advised three presidential campaigns — Mitt Romney, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz’s — on foreign policy.

As the Trump administration’s chief hostage negotiator, O’Brien is credited with securing the release of a pastor who had been held by Turkey and an oil engineer kidnapped in Yemen.

That is something he and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, who led negotiations with hijackers of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814, can discuss when they meet next, perhaps as soon as next week when President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi hold delegation-level bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the UN general assembly debates..

O’Brien will be the fifth US NSA that Doval has dealt with, starting with Susan Rice in the Obama administration; and Michael Flynn, HR McMaster and John Bolton of the Trump administration.