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By Ambassador (Ret) Thomas Pickering
Review by Michael W. Cotter

The Richard N. Krasno Distinguished Professorship in History & International Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, now held by Professor Klaus Larres, hosts a variety of lectures on international topics by academics and distinguished guests.  One such series is called the “Ambassadors Forum.” In April the guest was Ambassador Thomas Pickering, often described as the most distinguished U.S. diplomat of his generation.  Ambassador Pickering speaks frequently on current issues, his views illuminated by his multiple ambassadorships, most notably to Israel, the United Nations, India and Russia.  He held senior positions at the State Department as well, including Under Secretary for Political Affairs.

In this lecture Ambassador Pickering provided his views on the Syrian Civil War, the status of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, the crisis in Ukraine, and how best to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  His suggestion for Syria was to encourage creation of a constituent assembly that could work on constitutional issues, avoiding the question of President Assad remaining in power.  He expressed relative optimism regarding the current negotiations with Iran.  On Ukraine, he blamed Russia for the efforts to destabilize that country and was firm on the need to reject external efforts to change its boundaries. Finally, he emphasized the need to deal firmly with the Russian president.

After his remarks Ambassador Pickering participated in a panel discussion with Professor Larres and retired U.S. ambassador David Litt and took questions from the audience, all of which is included in the video.

In addition to the Pickering lecture, American Diplomacy readers will find many of the other lectures in the Krasno series well worth watching.  All can be found at

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