WASHINGTON — This week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) approved President Obama’s nominees to serve as ambassador to Armenia and Azerbaijan, Richard M. Mills, Jr. and Robert F. Cekuta, respectively, reported the Armenian Assembly of America. The SFRC approved a slew of nominations by voice vote during a closed-door meeting in the Capitol.
“We would like to thank out-going US Ambassador John Heffern for his work and accomplishments over the last three years,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “We look forward to working with the next ambassador to continue strengthening the US-Armenia partnership.”
The confirmation of the two nominees comes at a crucial time as increased tensions along the Line of Contact (LOC) between Nagorno Karabagh (NK) and Azerbaijan have claimed dozens of lives this year. The latest example of Azerbaijan aggression occurred on November 12th, when an Azerbaijani military unit stationed near the LOC shot down an unarmed NK army helicopter killing all three servicemen aboard.
A career diplomat, Mills has held numerous diplomatic positions. Currently, he is the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.
He also has diplomatic experience with Armenia. Early in his career, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he was the desk officer at the State Department for the newly independent Armenia and Azerbaijan.