The National Committee on American Foreign Policy closed its 2019 Spring program season with a conversation on the state of American diplomacy in an era of great power competition. A part of the annual Angier Biddle Duke Lecture Series, the National Committee hosted two esteemed diplomats for a candid, off-the-record conversation.
Geoffrey R. Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to Greece, spoke with Frank G. Wisner, currently an International Affairs Advisor with Squire Patton Boggs. Ambassador Pyatt, a career member of the Foreign Service, was sworn into his current post in September 2016.
He served as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from 2013-2016, receiving the State Department’s Robert Frasure Memorial Award in recognition of his commitment to peace and alleviation of human suffering in eastern Ukraine.
Previously, Ambassador Pyatt was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs from 2010-2013. He was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to the International Organizations in Vienna, Austria from 2007 to 2010. He also served at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India as Deputy Chief of Mission from 2006 to 2007 and as Political Counselor from 2002 to 2006. Ambassador Pyatt served as Economic Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong from 1999 to 2002 and as Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore, Pakistan from 1997 to 1999. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1989, he has also served on the National Security Council staff, on the staff of Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott and at posts in Honduras and India.
Ambassador Wisner's diplomatic career spans four decades and eight American presidents. He served as ambassador to Zambia, Egypt, the Philippines, and India during his extensive career in the State Department.
In addition to his role as an ambassador, he has served as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and as Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs. Ambassador Wisner was senior Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs from 1982 to 1986, a time of intense diplomatic engagement in Southern Africa.
After graduating from Princeton University in 1961, Ambassador Wisner joined the State Department as a Foreign Service officer. His first post was in Algiers immediately after it won independence from France. He then went to Vietnam, where he spent four years at the apex of the war.
He worked as a senior diplomat in Tunisia and Bangladesh before returning to Washington as Director of Plans and Management in the Bureau of Public Affairs. He joined the President’s Interagency Task Force on Indochina, the entity responsible for evacuating and settling nearly 1 million refugees and served as its Deputy Director.
Later, as Director of the Office of Southern African Affairs, he worked closely with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to launch negotiations with Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appointed Ambassador Wisner as the nation’s special representative to the Kosovo Status Talks in 2005 where he played a crucial role in negotiating Kosovo’s independence.