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George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan to speak at IU Bloomington

Robert P. Finn, who was the first U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban government, will discuss changes in the Near Eastern country in a lecture at Indiana University Bloomington on Jan. 22. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Finn, who served as ambassador to Afghanistan from March 2002 until August 2003 and was formerly ambassador to Tajikistan, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the Georgian Room of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St. The title of his lecture, rescheduled from November, will be "Afghanistan: Where Do We Stand?" His campus visit is part of the Chancellor's Forum series.

The first U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in more than 20 years, Finn will discuss the changes in that country since Sept. 11, 2001. Afghanistan was one of the poorest countries in the world before it was destroyed by 23 years of civil war. The worldwide effort to aid Afghanistan has since brought a new government, the war on terrorism and a multi-billion-dollar program of assistance. Finn will examine each of these and their effects on Afghanistan, the changes made and the country's future needs.

Finn is the Ertegun visiting professor in the Near East Studies Department of Princeton University, where he had been on the faculty prior to serving as ambassador to Afghanistan. He was the U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan in 1998-2001. His other diplomatic postings include Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir in Turkey, Lahore in Pakistan and Zagreb in Croatia.

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Finn earned master's and doctoral degrees in Near Eastern studies from Princeton University in 1976 and 1978, and a bachelor of arts degree in American literature and European history from St. John's University. He also has a master's degree in Near Eastern studies from New York University.

Finn opened the U.S. embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 1992. He has received numerous awards from the U.S. government, including one for heroism.