Obama taps Minnesota native for key diplomatic role in West Africa


President Obama has picked a Minnesotan to represent the United States in the West African nation of Guinea.

Dennis B. Hankins, originally of Bemidji and a longtime diplomat with the U.S. State Department's Foreign Service, is the president's nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Guinea, according to a news release.

The White House announced his selection on Tuesday.

Hankins graduated with the 1977 class of Bemidji High School and went on to attend Georgetown University and the National War College, the Bemidji Pioneer notes

The paper says that he has a son currently serving in the U.S. Navy.

Hankins has quite the resume, having served at a number of American embassies across the world, from Portugal to the Congo to Saudi Arabia. He has served in the roles of Consul General (which is the head of a consulate) and Political Counselor, among others.

He'll be moving up from his present leadership position at the U.S. Consulate General in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to replace current Ambassador to Guinea Alexander Laskaris, who took on the role in 2012.

It is not known why Laskaris is leaving his post.

In a statement, President Obama said he is "looking forward to working with" Hankins and the four other nominees announced this week, expressing gratitude that "these talented and dedicated individuals" have agreed to take on such "important roles" in the administration.

Hankins, along with the other nominees (most of whom are also stepping into ambassadorships), must be confirmed by the U.S. senate before officially assuming their roles.

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