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Name: Blake, Robert
Current Position: Former Assistant Secretary

To handle U.S. interests in one of the most volatile and important regions of the world, President Barack Obama has turned to veteran diplomat Robert O. Blake, Jr., who has experience in the region and whose father was a prominent diplomat as well, serving as Ambassador to Mali from 1971 to 1973. Blake was sworn in as assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affiars on May 26, 2009. South and Central Asia includes, among other countries, current hotspots Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India. As Blake himself recently stated, “In no region of the world are the stakes higher for US national security than in South and Central Asia.” 

Born in 1958, Blake earned his BA from Harvard in 1980 and an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1984. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1985, and served at the American embassies in Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt. He has also held a number of positions at the State Department in Washington. In his first South Asian posting, Blake served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in New Delhi, India, from 2003 to 2006. From 2006 to 2009, he served as Ambassador to Sri Lanka, which was in the final throes of a twenty-five-year-long civil war between the Tamil Tiger separatists, who wanted an independent homeland for the island’s Tamil minority, and the Sinhalese-dominated government. Blake was criticized for his advocacy of a political solution to the conflict, which he mistakenly argued could not be resolved by force of arms. 
Blake’s only political donations have been to Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. In 2006, Blake donated $2,600 to Whitehouse’s successful Senatorial campaign, while in 2002 he donated $1,000 to his failed campaign for Governor. 
Blake and his wife, Sofia, have three daughters. 
U.S.-India Relations: The Making of a Comprehensive Relationship (Speech delivered at the Indian Army War College, Indore, India, August 23, 2004)
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