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U.S. expected to replace ambassador to Seoul

The U.S. is expected to replace its ambassador to Seoul, considering deputy assistant secretary of state Joseph Donovan as a strong candidate to take the position, reports have said.

The reports come as President Barack Obama is conducting an extensive reshuffle of his White House staff in the third year of his presidency.

According to the reports, Donovan will be taking over from incumbent Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens, who recently landed in an awkward position following WikiLeaks’ disclosure of her diplomatic cables.

James Zumwalt, Deputy Chief of Mission to U.S. Embassy in Japan, will take over Donovan’s current position once the reshuffle is confirmed, reports said.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry declined to make an official comment until the reports are confirmed.

The Foreign Policy magazine had reported earlier that the Obama administration will be replacing senior officials in Korean affairs as part of the reshuffle aimed at preparing for Obama’s second presidential bid in 2012.

National Security Council Senior Director for Asia Jeffrey Bader, who is in charge of formulating policies toward Asia including the Korean Peninsula, will likely leave his post at the NSC “weeks or months from now” after the U.S.-China summit on Jan. 19, the magazine said.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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