Obama Appoints Special Envoy to Lead Hostage Recovery Efforts

James O’Brien will serve as the first Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs

President Obama has filled a new position created to ensure the safe return of American hostages overseas.

The White House announced Friday that James O’Brien will serve as the first Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.

O’Brien’s appointment fulfills an executive order President Obama signed in late June. He will report directly to the Secretary of State and work with closely with the newly created Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell to ensure synchronized diplomatic approaches to U.S. hostage recovery.

Secretary of State John Kerry pointed to a review of the government’s hostage policy, completed earlier this summer, as reason for hiring O’Brien. “That review recognized the need for fully coordinated action across U.S. agencies in responding to hostage situations and to the military, diplomatic, legal, and humanitarian issues that such situations generate,” said Secretary Kerry in a statement.

O’Brien is currently Vice Chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global business and strategy consulting firm. During the Clinton administration, he served as Special Presidential Envoy for the Balkans and as Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

“Jim is exactly the right person for a job that demands a high level of diplomatic experience and the ability to analyze and find effective remedies to complex problems,” Secretary Kerry said.