Politics

No. 2 US diplomat to retire

WASHINGTON (AP) — The second-highest ranking American diplomat is retiring this fall after a 32-year career in the foreign service that included stints as U.S. ambassador to Russia and Jordan, top Middle East hand and leader of a team that held secret talks with Iran.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns will step down in October, having several times delayed retirement at the request of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. Burns is just the second career diplomat to hold the No. 2 job at the State Department. In 2012, he was tasked with leading a small team of U.S. officials in covert discussions with Iran that resulted in the current negotiations over that country's nuclear program.

"I have relied on him for candid advice and sensitive diplomatic missions," Obama said Friday of Burns in a statement released by the White House. "He has been a skilled adviser, consummate diplomat, and inspiration to generations of public servants."

Kerry hailed Burns for his "enormous impact and influence in untold ways and myriad issues." "It's not just where he's served, it's who he is and what he's done," Kerry said. "This guy is the real deal. "

Burns joined the foreign service in 1982 and quickly rose within its ranks. In addition to the deputy post and his ambassadorial positions, he also served as undersecretary of state for political affairs, the State Department's No. 3 post, and director of policy planning.

Related Headlines

  • John Kerry

    US irate with Israeli defense minister comments

    The Obama administration on Wednesday vented its anger at the Israeli defense minister's public criticism of the U.S. and his personal insults of Secretary of State John Kerry 

  • Chuck Hagel, Mashal al-Zaben

    Hagel reassures Persian Gulf allies

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reassured Persian Gulf allies Wednesday of U.S. commitments to defend them amid tensions in the U.S.-Saudi relationship, including differences ... 

  • John Kerry

    Iranian Nukes: Gaps remain, but talks continue

    World powers and Iran still face significant gaps in their negotiations to curb Tehran's nuclear program, foreign ministers said Tuesday while forging ahead with efforts to ... 

  • Ali Khamenei

    Iran's supreme leader dismisses direct US talks

    Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday dismissed the value of direct talks with the U.S., his first comments touching on meetings that officials from the Islamic Republic had with ...