R. Nicholas Burns

R. Nicholas Burns ( born January 28, 1956 in Buffalo, New York) is an American diplomat, who held the third-highest post as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United States.


After schooling Burns studied for a year the French language at the Sorbonne and earned Certificat Pratique de Langue 1977 Française. Subsequently, he completed a degree in European history at Boston College and graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts (BA European History ) from. A subsequent post-graduate studies in the fields of International Economics and Foreign Policy of the United States at Johns Hopkins University, he finished in 1980 with a Master of Arts (MA International Economics & American Foreign Policy ). During his studies he became a member of the academic society Phi Beta Kappa.

After finishing his studies, he entered the diplomatic service and was initially 1983 to 1985 Vice-Consul at the Embassy in Egypt before he was then political officer at the embassy in Israel. In 1987 he returned to Washington, D.C. back and was the first from 1987 to 1988 employees in the Operations Center and Secretariat of the State Department, before he then until 1990 was Director of Affairs of the Soviet Union.

Following a multi-year activity was followed by the National Security Council, where he served as Director of Affairs of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia from 1990 to 1995 Chief. Then he returned to the Foreign Ministry and was until 1997 the speaker and at the same time acting Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. After a subsequent use as a successor to Thomas Niles as ambassador to Greece from December 1997 to July 2001, he was the successor of Alexander Vershbow 2001 as ambassador to NATO in August.

Most recently he was from March 2005 to February 2008 Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and thus held the third highest post in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In February 2008, he resigned for personal reasons from his post.

After his retirement from government service Burns, who also worked for the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies ( IISS ), was professor of practical diplomacy and international relations at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


  • America's Strategic Opportunity With India. The New U.S. -India Partnership. In: Foreign Affairs, November / December 2007
  • The Strength of Obama 's Long Game With Iran. In: The Atlantic, July 2010
  • Natural Allies: A Blueprint for the Future of US -India Relations, co-authors Richard Armitage and Richard Fontaine, 2010