November 6, 2018 / 6:54 AM / 13 days ago

Trump picks ex-counsel to Reagan as U.S. envoy to Australia

SYDNEY (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump has put forward a long-time Republican Party figure as his pick for ambassador to Australia, the White House said, hoping to fill a key diplomatic post that has been vacant for two years.

The nomination of Arthur B. Culvahouse, a lawyer and counsel to former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, will have to be confirmed by the Senate.

Australia is a key U.S. ally in the strategically important Asia Pacific region where China is asserting greater influence, especially in the disputed South China Sea.

Trump in February named then U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris as ambassador to Australia but then picked him for South Korea amid heightened tensions with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.

In 2016, Culvahouse led vetting of Mike Pence as Republican Party nominee for vice president.

In 1989, Reagan awarded Culvahouse the Presidential Citizens’ Medal, the White House said in a statement on Monday. In 1992, then Secretary of Defense Cheney awarded him the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Additional reporting by Rich McKay; Editing by Nick Macfie

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