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

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Another source with knowledge of the situation said President Donald Trump's nominee to be secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, had asked Harris to take the post in Seoul, which has been vacant since Trump took office in January past year.

"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 United States posture and standing throughout the region".

Harris had originally been the president's pick for ambassador to Australia, a key USA ally.

"(Australia) is a victim of the Trump administration's shambolic personnel practices", said Shearer, the former national security adviser to Australian Prime Ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott.

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One source told CNN that Pompeo has proposed the switch pending Trump's blessing.

Ms Bishop told reporters after an Anzac Day dawn service in Sydney that Australia recognised the North Korea nuclear crisis was a top global security priority and understood if Washington felt Admiral Harris was needed on the Korean peninsula. The White House official told Rogin that Harris has confirmed to Pompeo he is willing to take on the ambassador role in Seoul. Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are set to meet on Friday. Pompeo met Kim Jong-un over Easter to prepare for the historic summit in coming weeks.

He stressed the current Charge d'Affaires Jim Caruso was doing a good job.

The White House said in February it was no longer considering Victor Cha, a former official who questioned the wisdom of a preventative military strike on North Korea that was being mulled by the administration as a possibility earlier this year.

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Last year, before the House Armed Services Committee, Harris said North Korea's continued success in nuclear tests will only spur Kim Jong Un further down "this reckless and risky path".

"There's a danger that the Trump administration begins to take Australia for granted". His approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which appeared in doubt, came through on Monday evening, and a vote by the full Senate could come before Friday.

The reshuffle could also have an impact outside of the US and South Korea. Redirecting Harris to Seoul may hurt feelings in Canberra, and in China, where state media has attacked him for years, may bristle at his new post.

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