Bush Picks Beyrle as Ambassador

U.S. President George W. Bush has nominated John Beyrle, a career diplomat with extensive experience in Russia and Eastern Europe as U.S. ambassador to Moscow.

Beyrle, who will replace William Burns, has served two tours at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the most recent as deputy chief of mission from 2003 to 2005.

He is currently in Sofia, where he is U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria.

The appointment, announced late Tuesday, is contingent on confirmation in the U.S. Senate after a hearing before its Foreign Relations Committee. No date had yet been scheduled for Beyrle's appearance, according to the committee's web site.

"I'm honored by this new appointment to serve my country, and I'm looking forward to the confirmation hearings at the Senate," Beyrle said in a statement released Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said she did not know when Beyrle would take up the post.

"We don't have a time," she said. "It could be shortly after [Senate confirmation] or substantially down the road."

The U.S. charge d'affaires, Daniel Russell, will be running the embassy until Beyrle's arrival.

Beyrle joined the State Department in 1983 and went to work at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in the same year. He moved to the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, where he served from 1985 to 1987, and later worked at the U.S. Embassy in Prague. He is fluent in Bulgarian, Czech, French, German and Russian.

He also has an unusual family connection with the region. His father, Joseph Beyrle, who died in 2004, is believed to be the only soldier to have served in both the U.S. and Soviet armies during World War II.

The father served in the U.S. airborne and spent months in prisoner-of-war camps after being captured by the Germans. He ultimately escaped and joined a Soviet tank brigade.

He was decorated by U.S. President Bill Clinton and President Boris Yeltsin on the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994.

John Beyrle, 54, was born in Muskegon, Michigan. He studied French, German and Russian at Michigan's Grand Valley State University, before earning a master's degree from the National War College in Washington.

In Washington, Beyrle has held foreign-policy posts specializing in Russia and Eastern Europe.