Trump eyes Harris as envoy to S. Korea

Adm. Harris tapped as Seoul envoy

Adm. Harris tapped as Seoul envoy

Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump's nominee to be secretary of state, is seeking to have the US President's pick for ambassador to Australia sent to represent the US in South Korea.

Harris had already been approved by the Australian government, but the White House late on Monday asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to postpone Harris' confirmation hearing, which was supposed to take place on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Trump nominated Admiral Harris in February to become Australia's next ambassador; the United States has not had an ambassador there since John Berry left the post in September 2016.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is due to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a summit on Thursday and Trump has said he will hold an unprecedented meeting with Kim himself in May or June.

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.

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".

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"(Australia) is a victim of the Trump administration's shambolic personnel practices", said Shearer, the former national security adviser to Australian Prime Ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott. The White House official told Rogin that Harris has confirmed to Pompeo he is willing to take on the ambassador role in Seoul.

South Korea and the U.S. are now planning to hold respective summits with North Korea.

Charge d'Affaires Mark Knapper has been leading the US Embassy in South Korea, but Trump has faced criticism for not filling the ambassador position there.

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

Earlier this year, the U.S. withdrew Victor Cha, a North Korea expert, from consideration for the job amid allegations over his policy differences with the Trump administration on the North and other issues.

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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