Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Press Releases 2010

Press availability – Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns

Released in Phnom Penh, July 14, 2010

On Sunday July 18, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, William J. Burns will make a short statement and be available for questions from the media at the National Museum of Cambodia.  The availability will follow a ceremony honoring the repatriation of Cambodia antiquities by the U.S. government at 8:00 a.m.  Journalists are invited to cover both the ceremony and the follow-on press availability.  Please confirm attendance by 1:00 p.m. on July 16 by contacting the Embassy's Public Affairs Section by telephone at 023-728-258 or by e-mail at

Under Secretary for Political Affairs William J. Burns

William Burns holds the highest rank in the Foreign Service, Career Ambassador, and became Under Secretary for Political Affairs, the highest career position in the U.S. State Department, in May 2008.  In this position, he serves as the day-to-day manager of overall regional and bilateral policy issues, and oversees the bureaus for Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, the Near East, South and Central Asia, the Western Hemisphere, International Organizations, and International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

Ambassador Burns served from 2005 until 2008 as Ambassador to Russia.  He was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from 2001 until 2005, and Ambassador to Jordan from 1998 until 2001.  Ambassador Burns has also served in a number of other posts since entering the Foreign Service in 1982, including: Executive Secretary of the State Department and Special Assistant to Secretaries Christopher and Albright; Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow; Acting Director and Principal Deputy Director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff; and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council staff.

Ambassador Burns earned a B.A. in History from LaSalle University and M.Phil. and D.Phil. degrees in International Relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar.  He is the recipient of three honorary doctoral degrees.  Ambassador Burns is the author of Economic Aid and American Policy Toward Egypt, 1955-1981 (State University of New York Press, l985).  He speaks Russian, Arabic, and French, and is the recipient of two Presidential Distinguished Service Awards and a number of Department of State awards.  In 1994, he was named to TIME Magazine's list of the "50 Most Promising American Leaders Under Age 40", and to TIME's list of "100 Young Global Leaders."