ST. GEORGE – Former Utah. Gov. Jon Huntsman is a step closer to serving as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Russia with the unanimous approval of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday.
The panel recommended by a voice vote that the full Senate consider Huntsman’s ambassadorial nomination.
Members of the committee praised Huntsman for his previous public service – which includes two previous stints as an ambassador to Singapore and China – as well as his willingness to take on a complicated role of the United State’s envoy to the Russian Federation.
“While I am confident my previous experiences prepare me for this sensitive diplomatic mission, I am under no illusion that serving as the U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation will be easy or simple,” Huntsman told the committee in a prepared statement. “Our relationship with Russia is among the most consequential and complex foreign-policy challenges we face. As a nuclear superpower and permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, we have no choice but to deal with Russia on a range of issues touching on global stability and security.”
Among the issues Huntsman mentioned were Russia’s actions related to the Syrian civil war, invading Ukraine, as well as accusations of Russia’s meddling in the U.S. 2016 presidential elections.
“There is no question that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year and Moscow continues to meddle in the democratic processes of our friends and allies,” Huntsman said in a senate committee hearing last week.
Some committee members said they considered Huntsman one of the most qualified nominees they had ever interviewed.
“I want to compliment you as one of the very highest quality nominees for an ambassadorial post I have ever seen in my seven years on the foreign relations committee,” said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware. “I think you represent the very best of public leadership at home and abroad …. I look forward to supporting your nomination in any event.”
Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the committee, also pointed out Huntsman as being a well qualified for the position. He also praised him for his clarity of the answers he gave to the committee and also expressed his support for Huntsman’s nomination.
“So I am enthusiastically supporting this nominee and hoping we can get him to Moscow as soon as possible,” Cardin said.
If confirmed, Huntsman would take over a high-profile post amid ongoing investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s election intrusions and potential contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.
Huntsman has twice before served as a U.S. ambassador. He was the nation’s top diplomat to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush and ambassador to China under President Barack Obama before returning to the U.S. to run for president in 2012.
RICHARD LARDNER of the Associated Press contributed to this story.
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