WASHINGTON – President Obama's pick to be the first U.S. ambassador to Somalia in nearly 25 years is withdrawing her nomination.
An administration official says Katherine Simonds Dhanani is turning down the nomination for personal reasons. The official spoke on a condition of anonymity without authorization to speak on the record.
The U.S. Embassy closed in 1991 when Somalia's government collapsed in civil war. The State Department had planned to post Dhanani, once confirmed by the Senate, in neighboring Kenya until security conditions would permit the embassy in Mogadishu to reopen.
Last week, John Kerry became the first secretary of state to visit Somalia in a move to deepen ties. He cast the move toward restoring the ambassadorship as a "recognition of the progress made and the promise to come."