After Bolton fireworks, Trump picks low-key Robert O'Brien for top job
By Steve Holland, Jonathan Landay and Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.
By Steve Holland, Jonathan Landay and Matt Spetalnick
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump picked U.S. hostage negotiator Robert O'Brien on Wednesday as his fourth White House national security adviser, turning to a low-key choice for the position after the boisterous tenure of John Bolton.
O'Brien's selection was a sign of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's clout with the president, with U.S. officials saying Pompeo had made clear he would be happy with either O'Brien or another candidate, former deputy national security adviser Ricky Waddell.
"I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!" Trump said in a tweet.
Aides said Trump had gotten to know O'Brien through his work as the U.S. envoy for hostage negotiations and admired his ability to get hostages returned from North Korea and Turkey.
The job most recently took him to Sweden in a bid to get the American rapper known professionally as A$AP Rocky out of jail on an assault charge.
A source close to the White House said Trump wanted to pick a new adviser who would be able to get along well with Pompeo after the secretary of state sometimes struggled with Bolton.
O'Brien, the source said, "is a low-profile, articulate negotiator who has a strong relationship with Pompeo."
O'Brien follows in the footsteps of three other national security advisers: Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster and, most recently, Bolton, who clashed with the president over a host of issues from Iran to Afghanistan to North Korea.
Bolton parted ways with Trump a little more than a week ago, his stormy ending coming shortly after he disagreed with the prospect of the president easing some sanctions on Iran, a person close to Bolton said.
Within the National Security Council, O’Brien’s critical task will be to stabilize a sprawling foreign policy apparatus where morale has taken a major hit since Trump took office, according to an NSC insider.
Trump’s abrupt firing of Bolton added to a sense of unease among NSC staff. A key question is whether O’Brien will reinstate the inter-agency coordinating role for which the NSC was originally conceived but which was largely put on ice during Bolton’s tenure, the source said.
For Trump, O'Brien represents a low-key choice for the job, a sign that the president was happy to have someone without the television starpower of Bolton.
O'Brien is an attorney from Los Angeles who served as a foreign policy adviser to 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and 2016 candidate Scott Walker. He has handled a number of high-profile legal cases and previously served in several State Department positions, including as an alternative representative to the U.N. General Assembly in 2005.
O'Brien has been a fan of the recently departed Bolton after the two worked together when Bolton was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2005 during George W. Bush's presidency.
In a December 2016 column for radio host Hugh Hewitt's website, O'Brien called Bolton "a formidable diplomat and a patriot" in recommending the newly elected Trump pick Bolton for a high-profile assignment.
"John’s job as our man at the UN was never easy, often exhausting and painfully slow at points. But John, the definition of a diplomat, never grew physically tired or ever lost his temper with other diplomats or the mission’s staff," O'Brien wrote.
Trump in March had complimented O'Brien for doing a "fantastic job" after gaining the release of American hostage Danny Burch in Yemen.
People close to the White House said Trump was looking for someone who would manage the national security process, voice opinions behind the scenes but not go public with differences.
One of the most prominent hostage cases O’Brien has worked on is that of Austin Tice, a freelance journalist believed by the U.S. government to be alive who was abducted in Syria in August 2012 while reporting on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Tice’s parents, Marc and Debra Tice, praised what they described as O’Brien’s quiet, dogged efforts to win their son’s release.
“He’s kept us informed and been regularly in touch,” Marc Tice told Reuters in a telephone interview from his Houston home. “With Robert in this new role, Austin’s return can happen even sooner.”
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Jonathan Landay and Matt Spetalnick; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Makini Brice and Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Lisa Shumaker and Tom Brown)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.