Confirming speculation first reported by Washingtonian in February, the French Embassy says Ambassador François Delattre is departing the nation’s capital to assume the post of French Ambassador to the United Nations. At the same time, the diplomat who currently has that job, Gerard Araud, will succeed Delattre as ambassador to Washington, according to French sources.*
Delattre and his wife, Sophie, arrived in Washington in February 2011, replacing Pierre Vimont, who headed to Brussels to be number two in the European Union’s foreign ministry. They have been popular hosts at their residence on Foxhall Road, a temporary ambassadorial home while France’s grand mansion on Kalorama Road undergoes a long-needed renovation.
Delattre’s departure for the UN, expected for months, was put on hold while President François Hollande decided the fate of France’s Iran negotiator, Jacques Audibert, whom Hollande reportedly wanted at the UN. Ultimately, Hollande chose to promote him to a higher position at the Elysée Palace. Meanwhile, Araud, Delattre’s rumored replacement, got involved in a diplomatic dust-up involving actor Javier Bardem.
Araud, who is openly gay and lives with his partner, became UN ambassador in 2009. A native of Marseille, he studied at the Institute d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, and joined the diplomatic corps in 1982. His first posting was in Tel Aviv, Israel. He also served in Washington before, in the early 1990s, as counselor for Middle East issues.
*This post has been updated from a previous version.