Julie Chung confirmed as next US envoy to Sri Lanka

Julie Chung

The US Senate has approved the nomination of Julie Chung to be the new Ambassador of the United States to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

The Senate on Saturday had approved a flurry of nominations for overseas diplomatic posts while most of the nominees, including Chung, were approved by voice votes.

US President Joe Biden had nominated foreign service woman diplomat Julie Chung to be the country’s next ambassador to Sri Lanka in June.

The former Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, 49-year-old Julie Jiyoon Chung’s nomination needed to be confirmed by the Senate before she could take up her the position in the island nation.

Fluent in Korean, Japanese, Spanish and Khmer, Seoul-born Chung was previously Director of the Office of Japanese Affairs at the State Department.

She has served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Economic Counsellor at the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.

Chung was also the Chief of Staff to the Transition Coordinator at the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. She has also served at the US embassies in Colombia, Vietnam and Japan, and the US Consulate General in Guangzhou, China. She is a Pickering Fellow.

Chung earned her Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of California-San Diego and her masters degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

She is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Secretary’s Distinguished Honour Award.

During a Congressional hearing in October, Chung told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Sri Lanka is positioned in a strategic location at the heart of the Indian Ocean and its critical ports with access to global maritime lanes and trading routes play a pivotal role in a free and open Indo-Pacific architecture.

“This reinforces the necessity for the United States to build constructive relationships with Sri Lanka, including with civil society, the private sector and the Sri Lankan people,” she said.

Chung told lawmakers that if confirmed, she will work tirelessly to advocate for quality infrastructure and investment based on transparency, respect for international law and good governance, which is mindful of sustainable environmental and labour standards.