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Sweden to get new US envoy after 9-month wait
Azita Raji speaks at Barnard College in 2013. Photo: Barnard College

Sweden to get new US envoy after 9-month wait

Paul O'Mahony · 4 Mar 2016, 17:11

Published: 04 Mar 2016 17:11 GMT+01:00

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The US Senate confirmed the appointment last month of former JP Morgan banker Azita Raji as its new ambassador to Sweden, after presidential hopeful Ted Cruz ended his senate blockade on “political nominees”. 

She was finally sworn in at a ceremony on Thursday. 

“Now that Ambassador Raji has been sworn in by Vice President Biden, the next step is for her to arrive in Sweden, present her credentials to the King, and assume her official duties.  We look forward to her arrival soon,” US Embassy spokesman Mark Cameron told The Local. 

Raji, who fled Iran as a teenager, has been a prominent supporter of US president Barack Obama since leaving the financial sector in 2008, bringing in more than $3 million in campaign funding and serving as the President's national vice-chair for finance. She will be Sweden's first female US ambassador.

Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, began his blockage last summer, sending a letter to President Obama warning of plans “to block all nominees for the Department of State and hold any legislation that reauthorizes funds for the Department of State,” unless he received assurances on what described as the "catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal". 
 
Sweden has been without a US ambassador since Mark Brzezinski ended his four-year stint in Stockholm at the start of July to take up a post as Executive Director of the US government's Arctic Executive Steering Committee. 
 
Raji's Iranian background will be welcomed by Sweden's 63,828 Swedish Iranians, who have become one of the country's most successful immigrant groups since fleeing Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with several prominent MPs, writers, musicians, sportspeople and scientists. 
 
In neighbouring Norway the ambassador's office sat empty for more than 900 days. Oslo finally expects to welcome the new US Ambassador, Samuel Heins, next week. 

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

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