U.S. Department of State

R. Nicholas Burns
Spokesman and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

R. Nicholas Burns was appointed by Secretary of State Christopher as Spokesman of the Department of State and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in January 1995.

Mr. Burns, a career Senior Foreign Service Officer, had served for the previous five years on the National Security Council staff at the White House.

From 1993 to 1995 he was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Affairs. He had lead responsibility in the White House for advising the President and the National Security Advisor on all aspects of U.S. relations with the fifteen countries of the former Soviet Union.

He was director for Soviet (and then Russian) Affairs from April 1990 until July 1993 when he was appointed to his position as Senior Director. During this time, he attended all U.S.-Soviet summits and numerous other international meetings and specialized on economic assistance issues, U.S. ties with Russia and Ukraine and relations with the Baltic countries.

Prior to his service on the NSC staff, Mr. Burns worked in a series of positions at the Department of State from 1982 until 1990. He was Special Assistant to the Counselor of the Department in 1989-90, responsible for Soviet and Eastern European Affairs. He was a member of the Department's Transition Team in 1988, and served as a Staff Officer in the Department's Operations Center and Secretariat in 1987-1988.

Mr. Burns began his Foreign Service career in the Middle East, where he was Vice Consul and Staff Assistant to the Ambassador in Cario, Egypt between 1983-1985, and then Political Officer at the American Consulate General in Jerusalem from 1985-1987. In this position, he coordinated U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr. Burns has been awarded the State Department's Superior Honor Award for outstanding performance three times and in 1994 the Department's James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence. In 1995, he was awarded the order of Terra Mariana by the Estonian government for his work to promote the withdrawal of Russian military forces from that country.

Mr. Burns was born on January 28, 1956, in Buffalo, New York. Raised in Massachusetts, he earned the Certificat Pratique de Langue Francaise from the University of Paris (Sorbonne) in 1977. He subsequently earned a B.A. in European History from Boston College in 1978, graduated Summa Cum Laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He then received an M.A. with distinction from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1980 in International Economics and American Foreign Policy.

Before entering the Foreign Service, Mr. Burns served as an intern at the U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania and worked as a Program Officer for A.T. International, a non-profit organization specializing in economic assistance for Third World countries.

Mr. Burns is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and International Institute for Strategic Studies. He speaks French and Arabic. He is married to Elizabeth A. Baylies. They have three daughters.

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