Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd appointed ambassador to U.S.

Former Australian Prime Minister and ASPI President Rudd gives a speech during the 2017 Asia Game Changer Awards and Gala Dinner in New York
Former Australian Prime Minister and ASPI President Kevin Rudd gives a speech during the 2017 Asia Game Changer Awards and Gala Dinner in Manhattan, New York, U.S. November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

SYDNEY, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been appointed Australia's next ambassador to the United States at a time when both countries are deepening security cooperation in response to a rising China.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called Rudd one of the world's most sought-after experts on China and said he would bring significant experience to the role at a time when the region was being reshaped by strategic competition.

"Kevin Rudd is an outstanding appointment," said Albanese at a news conference on Tuesday ahead of Foreign Minister Penny Wong's state visit to China.

"He brings a great deal of credit to Australia by agreeing to take up this position as a former prime minister, as a former foreign minister."

Rudd, who speaks fluent Mandarin, has written and spoken widely on foreign relations with China since he quit politics in 2013. He completed an Oxford doctorate on the world view of China's president, Xi Jinping, in September and heads international relations institute the Asia Society in New York.

Saying he was greatly honoured, Rudd reiterated the importance of the U.S. alliance and highlighted his close personal ties with American business and political leaders after nearly a decade living and working in the country.

"Our national interest continues to be served, as it has for decades past, by the deepest and most effective strategic engagement of the United States in our region," said Rudd in a statement.

Albanese said the appointment of Rudd, which follows the September appointment of former foreign minister Stephen Smith as ambassador to the United Kingdom, reflected the importance of the AUKUS nuclear submarine security deal between Australia, the U.K. and U.S.

"It is no accident we are engaged in AUKUS and that those decisions require significant diplomatic but also of course a knowledge of the political structures that are in place," said Albanese.

Rudd will take up his post in early 2023.

Reporting by Lewis Jackson in Sydney; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Christopher Cushing

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