Senate confirms Huntsman as ambassador to Russia

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Former Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT) testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to be Ambassador to Russia on Capitol Hill in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman as President Donald Trump‘s ambassador to Russia, and sent an experienced diplomat to fill the crucial post in Moscow.

The Senate confirmed Huntsman, who also served as ambassador to China under former Democratic President Barack Obama, by oral vote. Huntsman served as ambassador to Singapore under former Republican President George HW Bush.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had approved Huntsman unanimously earlier this week, as members of both parties praised his qualifications and experience.

The Senate also confirmed three other diplomatic positions by oral vote: John Bass, currently the US ambassador to Turkey, to be sent to Afghanistan; Career diplomat Justin Siberell will serve as ambassador to Bahrain and Wess Mitchell, founder of a think tank, will serve as undersecretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Huntsman takes office in Moscow as Congressional committees and Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigate allegations that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Trump, as well as possible collusion with Moscow by associates of Trump.

Moscow denies such activity and Trump dismisses any collusive comments.

Huntsman said in his confirmation hearing that there was no question that Russia interfered during the 2016 campaign.

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