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Obama to Nominate Top Advisor as US Ambassador to Russia

In this photo taken April 8, 2010, Michael McFaul, from left, the administration's top Russian expert, is seen with National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, during a photo opportunity prior to a bilateral me

Senior administration officials say U.S. President Barack Obama will nominate his top Russia advisor as the next ambassador to that country.

Obama plans to nominate Michael McFaul, the architect of the administration's so-called "reset" policy under which the Obama administration sought to re-energize bilateral ties that were widely seen as strained under the administration of former President George W. Bush.

The officials, who spoke Sunday, did so on condition of anonymity. The New York Times newspaper said Obama informed his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, of his choice at a meeting in France last week.

McFaul is the senior director of Russian and Eurasian affairs at the National Security Council. He is a former Stanford University professor and Rhodes scholar. He has no previous diplomatic experience, but is highly regarded for his efforts to improve relations with Moscow.

Since President Obama took office in 2009, the two countries have signed a new Strategic Arms Control treaty and a new civilian nuclear cooperation pact. Washington and Moscow also have agreed on tougher sanctions against Iran, and Russia has allowed the United States to use its airspace to resupply U.S. troops in Afghanistan.