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Ranking Member Risch Opening Statement at Nominations Hearing for Ambassadors to Ecuador, Peru, Barbados, Jordan

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today gave the following opening remarks at a full committee nominations hearing. The nominees included Arthur W. Brown, nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Ecuador, Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Peru, Roger F. Nyhus, nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Barbados, the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Yael Lempert, nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Jordan.

Ranking Member Risch gave the following remarks:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate those remarks.

“I’m going to start with the nomination of ambassador to Ecuador – Ecuador is a democratic partner facing immense pressures from political forces controlled by former President Correa, bad Chinese deals made by Correa a decade ago, and violent Mexican cartels seeking access to Europe through Ecuadorian ports.

“The United States has a national interest in a stable and prosperous Ecuador. As such, I have joined Chairman Menendez on legislative efforts to deepen our economic relations and security cooperation with Ecuador. I look forward to hearing from Mr. Brown on how the United States can best support Ecuador as it works to successfully emerge from these crises.

“On the nomination of ambassador to Peru – Peru is another democratic partner facing a decade-long political crisis worsened by President Castillo’s failed self-coup in December, economic and social pressures related to the regional illegal migration crisis, and growing security threats from transnational organized crime.

“I hope to hear from the nominee how her experiences in other challenging places, such as Mexico and Mali, will inform her priorities and efforts in Lima.

“Turning to the nomination of ambassador to Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – the United States has enjoyed strong and mutually beneficial relations with the nations of the Eastern Caribbean for a very long time. Their stable democracies are an example for the rest of the continent. We certainly hope it stays that way.

“Overall, in the region – despite our shared democratic values – the region is a battleground against malign influences from China and transnational criminal organizations. I look forward to hearing from the nominee on how we can maximize our shared values and interests to keep the Caribbean an open and thriving part of the Americas.

“Finally, turning to the nomination of ambassador to Jordan – the kingdom is an essential U.S. partner in an often-turbulent region. It’s clear the Middle East is rapidly changing and strategic competition is alive and well. I think the king, who meets with us regularly, works very hard to keep our relationship strong. We want to keep it that way.

“As China continues to make inroads with our long-standing partners, it is vitally important that we have diplomats who are ready to roll up their sleeves and compete in the Middle East. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on that.”

These remarks have been lightly edited for clarity. Witness testimony is available on