United States

Susan A. Thornton, former Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Susan A. Thornton received her B.A. from Bowdoin College in Economics and Russian in 1985 and her M.A. in International Relations and Soviet Studies from the John Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in 1991. She also earned an M.S. in National Strategy and Resource Management from the Eisenhower School at the National Defense University in 2010.

She began working at the State Department in 1991. Prior to joining the State Department she worked at the Foreign Policy Institute focusing on Soviet Politics. Before being appointed to the position of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, a post from which she retired in July of 2018, she was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian Affairs. Prior to this position she served as the Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States Embassy in Turkmenistan.

Ambassador Thornton was instrumental in arranging negotiations with North Korea, countering China, and generally shaping the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States. In her previous positions she also dealt directly with US-Taiwan relations, cyber security between the United States and China, and North Korean denuclearization monitoring.

She is fluent in both Russian and Mandarin and served as a State Department Fascell Fellow from 1989-1990 at the United States Consulate in Leningrad, Russia.

After 28-years of diplomatic service, Ambassador Thornton has recently joined the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale University Law School as a Senior Fellow.

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