- - Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Shortly before leaving for holiday recess, the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Robert F. Cekuta, a career foreign service diplomat with expertise in international energy issues, to be the new American ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Mr. Cekuta arrives in his new post after serving the last three years as the State Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary in charge of the Bureau of Energy Resources, and is regarded as an expert in energy issues as well as democratic and free market reforms.

He was a key player in the formation of the new Energy Bureau, where he developed programs advancing global energy security, fighting corruption and building good governance and accountability in oil and gas production, the department said.

From 2010 to 2011 Mr. Cekuta served as deputy assistant secretary for energy, sanctions and commodities in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the Department of State, and previously worked as a senior adviser in the department for food security issues.

Over his two-decade career, Mr. Cekuta has served in numerous overseas posts including Kabul, Afghanistan; Tokyo, Japan; Berlin, Germany; Tirana, Albania; Vienna, Austria; Baghdad, Iraq; and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Mr. Cekuta earned his bachelor’s degree at Georgetown University in 1976 and master’s degrees from Thunderbird School of Global Management in 1978 and the National Defense University in 1994.

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including eight Senior Performance Awards, four Superior Honor Awards and five Meritorious Honor Awards. He speaks German, Albanian and Arabic, the department said.

He was nominated by President Obama in July to the ambassadorship and confirmed by the Senate in a voice vote on Dec. 16.

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