Trump's ambassador switch shows Australia is a 'second-class ally': Rudd

25 April, 2018, 16:09 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • 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

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she had been informed of the decision by Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan on Tuesday.

"At the request of the administration, the hearing has been postponed until early May", said Micah Johnson, a spokeswoman for Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker.

During his own confirmation hearing to become secretary of state, the former Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo had promised to fill the role of U.S. ambassador to South Korea quickly. Pompeo met Kim Jong-un over Easter to prepare for the historic summit in coming weeks.

In his 2014 confirmation hearing to be commander of Pacific Command, Harris said he believed North Korea to be the "most volatile and unsafe threat" in the region.

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Andrew Shearer, a senior policy adviser for the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, told the ABC's AM programme it would be "hard to escape a bit of a sense that Australia is being treated here as a second-class ally".

"Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan confirmed that the White House administration had chose to reassign Admiral Harris to another post", Ms Bishop told reporters in Sydney.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said a decision by the U.S. to pull its incoming ambassador to Australia shows the Trump administration considers this country a "second-class ally".

A congressional aide told The Washington Post that the ambassador positions in Canberra and Seoul were both "critical posts".

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When the Trump administration nominated Harris as Australian ambassador in February it was warmly welcomed by the Turnbull government.

He stressed the current Charge d'Affaires Jim Caruso was doing a good job.

Victor Cha, a highly respected academic and an official in the George W. Bush administration, was under consideration for the role past year, but the White House scrapped his candidacy in December, reportedly over his privately expressed disagreements with Trump's policy on North Korea.

Bishop noted past appointments for USA ambassador to Australia took time.

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Harris has also watched as an increasingly assertive China has pursued a more muscular military posture in the Pacific and established a military presence on man-made islands in areas the U.S. and its allies contend are global waters.

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