Malcolm Turnbull disappointed by United States ambassador switch, but not anxious about relationship

Harry Harris Jr head of the Pacific Command attends at a Fullerton Lecture

Harry Harris Jr head of the Pacific Command attends at a Fullerton Lecture

"He is a guy of enormous experience and ability and given the situation on the Korean Peninsula, given the tensions there, I can well understand why the President has decided that the Admiral's expertise and experience is going to be able to be put to better use in Korea than in Australia", Mr Turnbull said.

Diplomatic relations between the USA and North Korea have thawed in recent months, but there has been no American ambassador on the Korean peninsula since 2016.

Trump nominated Harris, who is known for his hawkish views on China's military expansion, to serve as the American ambassador to Australia in February, but filling the key post in Seoul post has become even more of a priority as diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons have intensified.

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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"I am disappointed that Harry is not coming because he is a really good friend, and I think Harry will be disappointed he is not coming to Canberra too because he really loves Australia", he said.

"And while Admiral Harris would be a capable, talented and effective nominee for either post, the process by which the administration has handled the nominations for our ambassadors to Korea and now Australia ... risks doing grave damage to vital alliance relationships and USA posture and standing throughout the region".

The Trump administration is reportedly set to name US Navy Adm. Harry Harris as ambassador to South Korea. "I think it's much more typical of the ad hoc, moment-to-moment decision making if this particular administration", he added.

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.

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Opposition defense spokesman Richard Marles said the sooner Australia got a new USA ambassador the better. And it's understandable to do so, given the 19-month delay in appointing a United States ambassador to Canberra under Donald Trump's presidency.

Former government minister and the current Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson said while he wouldn't describe it as a snub, the United States should have proper representation in Australia.

The news comes after the Senate Foreign Relations committee on Monday endorsed Mike Pompeo for secretary of State. "Nigh on two years will be an insult, and with impact", Mr Fischer said.

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