US State Dept spokeswoman steps down
AFP, Friday 20 Feb 2015


State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who has proved a bugbear for Russian officials, is to leave her post to become the new White House director of communications, officials said Thursday.

During her two years in office, Psaki has become a familiar face both abroad and at home as spokeswoman for globe-trotting chief US diplomat John Kerry.

A veteran of both President Barack Obama's political campaigns and Kerry's 2004 White House bid, Psaki was "the obvious and first choice for this role," the White House said in a statement.

She will take over on April 1 from Jen Palmieri.

Obama said in a statement Palmieri had been "a brilliant and effective communications director and trusted advisor" as well as a "good friend."

"I'd say Jen is irreplaceable - if Jen Psaki hadn't agreed to step in," Obama said.

Psaki, who took over from Victoria Nuland as the State Department spokeswoman in February 2013, has won respect for her calm, unflappable handling of breaking news crises, running the gauntlet of the world's media.

But she has often been the target of Russian media outlets and bloggers for voicing US criticism of Russian foreign policy, particularly in Ukraine.

Psaki hit back last June saying the attacks on her were "sexist" and adding "many people know that there are efforts by the Kremlin and the propaganda machine to discredit a range of officials, including recently myself, as silly as that is, because the United States supports a strong, democratic Ukraine."

"So if I get dinged a bit for that, I'm not going to sweat it. I will take it as a badge of honor."

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