US envoy Stephen Biegun turns down Russia post to focus on North Korea denuclearisation

US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said the US is prepared to restart talks as soon as North Korea is ready.
US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said the US is prepared to restart talks as soon as North Korea is ready.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - United States Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said on Wednesday (Aug 21) that he will not take up the post of ambassador to Russia in order to focus on making progress on the denuclearisation of North Korea.

Mr Biegun, in Seoul for talks with South Korean officials, said the US is prepared to restart talks with North Korea as soon as Pyongyang is ready.

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan "could very well be" the next US ambassador to Russia, describing the No. 2 diplomat at the State Department as "very respected".

Speaking at the White House, where he hosted Romania's President Klaus Iohannis, Mr Trump indicated that Mr Sullivan was being considered for the job.

"He's somebody that is being put up and respected very much... very respected. I know that Mike Pompeo likes him very much, and he's very respected. He could very well be (my nominee)," Mr Trump told reporters.

If nominated, Mr Sullivan would succeed Mr Jon Huntsman, who resigned earlier this month as Washington's envoy to Moscow amid speculation he plans to run for governor of Utah.

In his resignation letter, Mr Huntsman, who is scheduled to leave his post in October, urged the administration to hold Russia accountable for its behaviour but said that it should not ignore common interests between the countries.