25 April 2018Hot off the Press
US President Donald Trump’s nominee for Ambassador to Australia, Admiral Harry Harris, will be sent to South Korea instead, according to reports that incoming US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to re-nominate the Admiral.
The move comes just a day before Admiral Harris was set to attend a confirmation hearing in Canberra on Wednesday morning to finalise his diplomatic posting, which has been left vacant for 18 months.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said she was informed of the change in plans yesterday by acting US Secretary of State John Sullivan.
“While we would have welcomed Admiral Harris here as ambassador to Australia, we understand that there are significant challenges for the United States on the Korean peninsula,” Ms Bishop said.
Ms Bishop added, “We of course have a very strong and deep relationship with the United States, and I am sure they will choose a very appropriate ambassador to take his place in due course.”
Acting Secretary Sullivan said announcing a new Ambassador to Australia will be a priority for the Trump Administration.
However, there is speculation that this latest reversal by the Trump Administration could place tension on the Australia-US alliance.
Former Australian national security advisor Andrew Shearer told the ABC, “I think it will be hard to escape a bit of a sense that Australia is being treated here as a second-class ally. I think that is regrettable. Australia really is, if you like, a collateral casualty here to the shambolic personnel practices of the Trump administration.”
Admiral Harris is head of the US Pacific Command and has worked closely with the Australian military.