US to nominate Iraq ambassador as Egypt envoy

The Obama administration plans to nominate its ambassador in Iraq to be the new US envoy in Cairo, US officials said on Wednesday, as US-Egyptian ties remain strained following the Egyptian army's ouster of an elected president last year.

Robert Stephen Beecroft, a longtime diplomat who has been US ambassador in Baghdad since 2012, would replace Anne Patterson, who left the Cairo post last year and is now serving as a senior official on Middle East issues in Washington.

It is not clear when Beecroft would be formally nominated, the officials said on condition of anonymity. US ambassador positions must be confirmed by the Senate.

If nominated and confirmed, Beecroft would be the face of US policy in Cairo at a fraught moment in US-Egyptian ties.

US officials have repeatedly criticized the military-backed interim government for harsh treatment of opponents, particularly those linked to the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, and for allowing courts to hand down death sentences for hundreds of opponents.

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