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US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman stepping down

Published: Updated:

US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. has submitted his resignation, signaling the end of a two-year stint during what he called a historically difficult time in relations between the two countries.

Huntsman is planning to return to Utah amid speculation that he may again run for governor, said Salt Lake Chamber president Derek Miller, who served under him during his previous tenure.

Huntsman, a Republican, left the Utah governor’s office in 2009 when former President Barack Obama tapped him as ambassador to China. He was popular in the state and had been elected to his second term the year before.

Huntsman mounted a brief run for president in 2011. In 2017, President Donald Trump named him as ambassador to Russia, as the US investigated Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election.

In a resignation later dated Monday and first obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune, Huntsman said he was honored by the trust Trump placed in him “during this historically difficult period in bilateral relations” that has included expulsions and forced departures of his staff.

In the letter, Huntsman also urged the US to hold Russia accountable for behavior that threatens American allies. He said he wants to leave to reconnect with family and home responsibilities.

Huntsman is expected to serve through Oct. 3.