WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is nominating a top Defense Department official to become the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
The White House announcement Wednesday comes as tensions mount between the two countries over Obama administration policy toward Syria, Iran and Egypt.
Obama says he intends to nominate Joseph William Westphal to fill the critical Middle Eastern diplomatic post. Westphal has been undersecretary of the Army since 2009.
Obama also has chosen Colleen Bradley Bell to become the U.S. ambassador to Hungary. Bell is a Hollywood television producer and Obama fundraiser. Obama attended a re-election fundraiser last year at the Los Angeles home Bell shares with her husband, Bradley, who is executive producer of "The Bold and the Beautiful" soap opera.