Australia: Admiral to Become US Ambassador to South Korea

Moving Harris who currently serves as commander of US Pacific Command was Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo's idea ahead of potential talks between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un the sources said

Moving Harris who currently serves as commander of US Pacific Command was Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo's idea ahead of potential talks between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un the sources said

President Donald Trump has pulled his choice for US ambassador to Australia and will send him to South Korea instead, according to several media reports.

Two senior US officials confirmed the plan to nominate Harris.

Ms Bishop said "we understand the challenges the United States has on the Korean peninsula".

But the admiral emphasized that in dealing with North Korea, the US must "be guided by a strong sense of resolve both publicly and privately in order to bring Kim Jong Un to his senses, not his knees".

While Seoul is arguably the most important diplomatic post with potential Kim talks looming, Australia is also a "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing partner that would need a new ambassador to go through the confirmation process if Harris shifts.

Earlier today Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the acting Secretary of State had assured her that announcing a new ambassador to Australia would be a priority.

The United States has not had an ambassador in Australia since John Berry, president of the American Australian Association, left the post in September 2016.

However, Andrew Shearer, senior adviser on Asia-Pacific Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it was hard to avoid the impression Australia was being treated as a "second-class ally".

The ambassadorship to South Korea is one of many vacancies in the USA government ahead of a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un planned by early June.

"I am disappointed that Harry is not coming because he is a really good friend, and I think Harry will be disappointed he is not coming to Canberra too because he really loves Australia", he said. "I think it's much more typical of the ad hoc, moment-to-moment decision making if this particular administration", he added.

Still, Harris's nomination to serve as the top ambassador to South Korea will likely take some time. The embassy in Seoul has been run for the past year and a half by Charge d'Affaires Mark Knapper. "This is not unusual, it has happened before but we look forward to a new ambassador being nominated as soon as possible", she said.

Former government minister and the current Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson said while he wouldn't describe it as a snub, the United States should have proper representation in Australia.

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