Ambassador Robert Blake entered the Foreign Service in 1985 and has since served tours at U.S. embassies in Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria, and Egypt. Most recently, Blake served as assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs from 2009 to 2013.
Blake served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Mission in New Delhi from 2003 to 2006 and as ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives from 2006 to mid-2009. Among his positions at the State Department, Blake was senior desk officer for Turkey, deputy executive secretary, and executive assistant to the undersecretary for political affairs.
Why is he in the news?
President Barack Obama on July 30 nominated Blake to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia, replacing Scot Marciel, who has held the position since August 2010.
U.S. ties with Indonesia have improved significantly in recent years under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s tenure, and Blake will play a pivotal role in ensuring that they continue to grow through Indonesia’s 2014 presidential and legislative elections.
What can we expect from him?
Blake arrives in Jakarta at a crucial point in Indonesia’s domestic politics and will likely focus on reinforcing bilateral engagement amid hotly contested upcoming elections. This includes shoring up support for the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership, as well as continued cooperation with Jakarta in regional institutions like ASEAN and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, which Indonesia is chairing this year.
His public diplomacy experience in Sri Lanka will be useful to U.S. efforts to engage Indonesians through outreach programs like @america, an initiative designed to promote awareness of U.S.-Indonesia relations. Finally, Blake’s background in India suggests that he may be the right person to facilitate trilateral cooperation between India, Indonesia, and the United States.