The White House said on July 18 that it will nominate Jon Huntsman Jr., former ambassador to China, to be U.S. President Donald Trump's ambassador to Russia.
The U.S. Senate must approve the high-profile appointment, which comes amid allegations that Russia intervened in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Huntsman, 57, is a former governor of the U.S. state of Utah and was ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011. He has long been expected to be Trump's pick for the job.
He has served in the administrations of five U.S. presidents and was a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
The White House made the announcement shortly after it acknowledged that Trump had a previously undisclosed conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a dinner at the G-20 summit in Germany earlier this month.
Trump has said he wants to improve relations with Russia.
Reports in March that Huntsman would be named Russian ambassador were greeted with mixed reviews in Moscow, with one politician saying he was "not a dove" and the Kremlin saying it would welcome anyone who was a "convinced proponent" of establishing a dialogue with Russia.
However, a top Russian Foreign Ministry official on July 19 signaled that Huntsman’s nomination wouldn’t be opposed in Moscow.
"We’ve given our consent," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state-run Channel One TV. "He is a superior professional, a man who has strong convictions. He’s very experienced and has seen a lot."
Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters