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Story highlights

The former Utah governor has been chosen by Trump as ambassador to Russia, sources say

He was the ambassador to China during Obama's administration

Washington CNN —  

Former Utah governor and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has accepted President Donald Trump’s offer to serve as the next ambassador to Russia, several senior administration officials told CNN.

If confirmed, Huntsman would become one of the highest-profile US ambassadors, helming the diplomatic mission to a country that has seen its relationship with the US become increasingly strained in recent years. Huntsman would also take on the post amid ongoing questions about connections between Russians known to US intelligence and Trump campaign advisers – and just months after Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump’s cabinet nominees

The post would be the third ambassadorship for Huntsman, who previously served as US ambassador to Singapore and China. Huntsman was the ambassador to China during President Barack Obama’s administration.

Huntsman’s selection comes two weeks after the Utah Republican was first floated as a contender for a top diplomatic post.

One senior administration official said Huntsman was tapped because he is a “brilliant guy,” “tough” and understands what Trump wants.

CNN’s Dylan Byers contributed to this report.