Australia says admiral will be next United States ambassador to Seoul

Harry Harris Jr head of the Pacific Command attends at a Fullerton Lecture on

Iran, Syria on agenda for Macron visit After Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate's confirmation process needs a revamp MORE plans to switch President TrumpDonald John TrumpRand's reversal advances Pompeo New allegations could threaten Trump VA pick: reports President Trump puts on the pageantry for Macron's visit MORE's proposed ambassador to Australia to instead be the USA ambassador to South Korea, The Washington Post reports.

In Seoul, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Seoul and Washington have been cooperating to fill the post, but stopped short of confirming Harris' reported nomination.

However, senior adviser on Asia-Pacific Security at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies Andrew Shearer told CNN it was "hard to avoid the impression Australia was being treated as a second-class ally". "This is not unusual, it has happened before but we look forward to a new ambassador being nominated as soon as possible", she said.

The Trump administration hopes to have Admiral Harris in Seoul by May or June, after hearings that could come in the next two weeks.

"I think that's regrettable", he said.

The ambassadorial post in South Korea has been vacant since US President Donald Trump took office in January previous year. "I must assume his claims are true - I know his aspirations certainly are".

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A 1978 graduate of the US Naval Academy, Harris was designated a naval flight officer after graduation and has held several other command assignments in the Navy, including with the US Pacific Fleet and the 6th Fleet.

"He is a guy of enormous experience and ability and given the situation on the Korean Peninsula, given the tensions there, I can well understand why the President has decided that the Admiral's expertise and experience is going to be able to be put to better use in Korea than in Australia", Mr Turnbull said.

"There's a danger that the Trump administration begins to take Australia for granted".

"One year is an accident not having a US ambassador, reflecting low priorities for the Australia-US alliance".

The White House said in February it was no longer considering Victor Cha, a former official who questioned the wisdom of a preventative military strike on North Korea that was being mulled by the administration as a possibility earlier this year.

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