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Picture of William J. BurnsBIOGRAPHY

William J. Burns
Under Secretary, Political Affairs
Term of Appointment: 05/13/2008 to present

Bill Burns holds the highest rank in the Foreign Service, Career Ambassador, and became Under Secretary for Political Affairs, the highest career position in the State Department, in May 2008. 

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, including two Distinguished Honor Awards, the 2006 Charles E. Cobb, Jr. Ambassadorial Award for Initiative and Success in Trade Development, the 2005 Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award for conflict resolution and peacemaking, and the James Clement Dunn Award. 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."

Ambassador Burns and his wife, Lisa Carty, have two daughters.



Released on June 4, 2008

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