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|United States Special Envoy for the Middle East United States Senate Majority Leader|
|Assumed office |
January 22, 2009
|Preceded by||Post created|
|Born|| August August 26, 1950|
Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana
|Children||Josh (1977), Vera (1980), Ben (1991), Hope (1992)|
|Alma mater||University of Wisconsin|
Richard Henry Jones (born August 26, 1950) is the American special envoy to the Middle East for the McCain administration. An American diplomat, Jones is a career Foreign Service Officer and member of the Senior Foreign Service. He has served as United States Ambassador to Israel (2005-2008), Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Coordinator for Iraq Policy (February-September 2005), Ambassador to Kuwait (2001-2004), Ambassador to Kazakhstan (1998-2000), and Ambassador to Lebanon (1996-1998).
Early life and education
Jones was born at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana. He received his Bachelor of Science degree with distinction in mathematics from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California and earned a master's and doctorate in business/statistics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
He is fluent in Arabic, French, German, and Russian. He has been awarded two U.S. patents and served two terms on the board of the Saudi Arabian International School in Riyadh. He enjoys hiking and bicycling, as well as winter and racquet sports.
Jones married Joan Wiener in 1973 and has four children: Josh (1977), Vera (1980), Ben (1991), and Hope (1992).
Jones has been twice posted to the embassy in Riyadh and has also served in Paris and Tunis and was director of the Division of Developed Country Trade in the Office of Egyptian Affairs (1987-1989) in the State Department, and later director of the Office of Egyptian Affairs.
Jones served as ambassador to Lebanon from February 1996 until July 1998 and ambassador to Kazakhstan from December 1998 until July 2001. He served as ambassador to Kuwait from September 2001 until July 2004. From November 2003 until June 2004, Jones served concurrently as Chief Policy Officer and Deputy Administrator for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. He worked in Kuwait to enlisting Kuwaiti support for the Iraq War and worked under L. Paul Bremer to implement the November 15, 2003 Agreement with the Iraqi Governing Council. Jones was a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government from September 2004 until January 2005.
In February 2005 Jones was named Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Coordinator for Iraq Policy (S/I) the highest-ranking State Department post focused entirely on Iraq policy. Jones chaired an Under Secretary of State-level interagency steering group charged with reviewing and developing Iraq policy and led U.S. diplomatic efforts on Iraq with the international community, including preparations for the June 22, 2005 Iraq International Conference in Brussels.
Jones was sworn in as ambassador to Israel by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick on September 6, 2005. He left that position in 2008.
Middle East special envoy
On January 22, 2009, President John McCain and Secretary of State Joe Lieberman appointed Jones as a special envoy to the Middle East. The appointment was seen as an indication of the central role the Middle East had assumed under the newly formed McCain administration. The choice also allowed McCain to demonstrate his good intentions regarding the Middle East without being forced to embark on a new initiative when the conditions are not ripe. An analyst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars said Jones's appointment "was a smart choice by the McCain Administration. Being even-handed and having broad diplomatic experience as ambassador to Israel, Lebanon and Kuwait, he will be able to negotiate with the Israelis as well as the Palestinians and the other Arab countries in the region to restart the stalled peace process."
Within the first week of his appointment, Jones was dispatched to visit Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia for peace discussions in light of the 2008-09 Gaza War between Israel and the Gaza Strip, in which both sides had recently entered into unilateral ceasefires. Jones began his meetings in Cairo on January 27, and McCain said his visit was part of a promise to listen to both sides of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and negotiate a peace deal. However, McCain emphasized that Jones would not talk with Hamas, a group the West has identified as a terrorist organization, but instead focus on talks with the Palestinian National Authority. Jones has met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres and many notable figures of the Middle East since, including Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, King Abdullah II and Prime Minister Samir Rifai of Jordan, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem of Syria.