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US Envoy to North Korea turns down Russian ambassadorship

U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrives at Incheon International Airport on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019 in Incheon, South Korea. Biegun is on a visit to South Korea for a working-level meeting between U.S. and North Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images/TNS)

U.S. special envoy to North Korea Stephen Biegun said on August 21 that he had declined the post of ambassador to Russia to focus on the denuclearization efforts regarding North Korea, Reuters reported.

He is in Seoul for discussions with South Korean officials and said the United States is prepared to renew talks with North Korea as soon as Pyongyang is ready.

“I will not be taking up a diplomatic posting in the Russian Federation and I will remain focused on making progress on North Korea,” Biegun told reporters. “I am fully committed to this important mission, and we will get this done.”

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan “could very well be” Washington’s next ambassador to Russia, U.S. President Donald Trump said on August 20.

He would replace Jon Huntsman Jr., who announced his resignation earlier this month.

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Trump’s remarks came after The New York Times reported that Trump was expected to name Sullivan to the diplomatic post, coming at a sensitive time in U.S.-Russia relations.

Huntsman said in a letter dated August 8 that he would step down on October 3, ending two years at the post dominated by issues such as U.S. sanctions on Russia and a dispute that led to diplomats being expelled from both countries.

Several reports from news media in Utah stated that Huntsman, a former governor of the state, would run in an election to win back his old job.