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Who is US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman

On September 28, 2017, U.S. Senate confirmed the former Governor of Utah, Jon Meade Huntsman Jr. as Ambassador of the United States to the Russian Federation
Jon Meade Huntsman Jr. AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Jon Meade Huntsman Jr.
© AP Photo/Alex Brandon

MOSCOW, September 30. /TASS/. On September 28, 2017, U.S. Senate confirmed the former Governor of Utah, Jon Meade Huntsman Jr. as Ambassador of the United States to the Russian Federation.

Jon Huntsman Jr. was born on March 26, 1960, in Redwood City, California into the family of Jon Huntsman Sr., a billionaire businessman who founded Huntsman Corporation, a large manufacturer of chemical products.

By his father’s line, Jon Huntsman Jr. is a great-great-great grandson of Parley P. Pratt, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons).

At the beginning of the 1970’s when Huntsman Sr. was an advisor in the Administration of Richard Nixon, Huntsman Jr. delivered newspapers to the White House, for which he received pin money.

At the age of fifteen, he abandoned school and joined the Wizard rock group as a keyboardist. By that time, he had managed to make it up to the rank of an eagle scout - the highest rank in the U.S. scouts movement.

Huntsman Jr. passed the tests confirming his aptitude for further studies as a school leaver somewhat later and enrolled for a course at Utah State University. However, he once again gave up studies in 1981 and joint missionaries in Taiwan to carry on the cause of his great-great-great grandfather Parley Pratt.

He enrolled by Pennsylvania State University upon return to the U.S. from Taiwan and graduate from it as a bachelor in international politics in 1987.

From 1982 through 1984 he was at trainee in the office of Republican senator Orrin Hatch and then a staff-member in the executive office of President Ronald Reagan. In 1987 and 1988, he lived together with his family in Taiwan.

Huntsman Jr. worked for the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1989 and 1990 and was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific.

In 1992, at the age of just 32 years old, Huntsman took the post of U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, thus becoming the youngest American ambassador anywhere over the previous 100 years.

From 1993 through to 2001, Huntsman Jr. occupied a number of positions in his father’s corporation - director of Huntsman Corporation, CEO of Huntsman Cancer Foundation and director general of Huntsman Family Holdings Company.

President George W. Bush appointed him U.S. Trade Representative - a cabinet member, head of a government agency that develops trade legislation. He resigned in 2003.

In November 2004, he ran for Utah Governor and won against Democratic candidate Scott Mathison (58% votes vs. 41%). He ran for a second term of office vs. Democrat Bob Springmeyer in 2008, emerging victorious with 77.7%

Utah got a place among the three best states in terms of business environment during his governorship. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the state boasted the biggest number of new jobs in the period of 2005 through 2009 and its budget grew 36.5% to $ 22.8 billion from $ 16.7 billion.

Pew Center called Utah ‘the best managed state’. Huntsman Jr. had the approval rating between 80% and 90%

Barack Obama appointed Huntsman U.S. Ambassador to China in 2009. An article that appeared on one of the Chinese websites in 2011 accused him of attempts to trigger and anti-government revolution there. It contained a video showing the ambassador on a street in Beijing on February 20, 2011, during an anti-government demonstration but access to the video was blocked somewhat later.

The U.S. embassy’s press secretary claimed in a comment on the situation Huntsman did not know anything about the protests and happened to be on the spot quite accidentally.

Jon Huntsman Jr. returned to the U.S. in 2011 and made public his plans to fight for nomination as the Republican candidate for presidency. He chose Liberty State Park in New Jersey opposite Liberty Statue as the venue of his first address as part of the nomination campaign. It was there that Ronald Reagan launched his campaign in 1980.

Opinion polls showed Huntsman’s popularity rating did not exceed 2% He received 17% votes in the January 10, 2012, primaries in New Hampshire, pulling out of the race and urging his supporters to support Mitt Romney, his distant relative who eventually lost to Barack Obama.

As of 2012, Huntsman Jr. was a member of the boards of directors of several leading corporations, including Caterpillar Inc. and Ford Motor Company. In 2014, he got membership of the board of governors at Chevron Corp. and in 2015, at Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

Huntsman took charge of the board of directors of the Atlantic Council, an NGO promulgating NATO interests. Also, his is a co-chairman of No Labels public association that positions itself as the voice for dozens of millions of Americans who were de facto abandoned by the Democrats and the Republicans likewise.

In addition to it, Jon Huntsman chairs the fund for fighting with cancer that was founded by his father.

President Donald Trump nominated him for the post of U.S. ambassador in Russia on July 18, 2017 and the Russian Foreign Ministry gave agreation (consent) to his candidacy, saying Russia would be glad to meet and greet any ambassador disposed towards building bilateral relations through dialogue.

On the face of it, many experts in the U.S. said Huntsman was far from the best pick for ambassadorial work in Moscow due to his limited knowledge of the country.

Huntsman told the hearings devoted to his candidature on September 19 the U.S. had no other choice than to collaborate with Russia in the solution of international problems. He said he wanted to discuss with the Russian authorities the struggle with terrorism, observance of arms control treaties and nonproliferation, political settlement in Syria, and resolution of the crisis in Ukraine.

Along with it, Huntsman said he had no doubts Russia had interfered in the course of the 2016 presidential election in the U.S.

The Huffington Post described him as a conservative technocratic optimist during the 2012 presidential race, but he called himself simply a conservative. He campaigned against abortions and same-sex marriages, although he signed a petition for legalizing them in February 2013.

Huntsman criticized Obamacare and the resetting of U.S.-Russia relations proposed by Obama. BBC quoted him as saying Washington was not to build relations with Russia pretending that the Kremlin was a bigger partner of the U.S. than in reality.

Nonetheless, he spoke in favor of cooperation with Russia in a number of spheres, saying that Russia’s potential could be used in arms control, in resolving the ‘Iranian problem’ and in upholding the U.S. interests in Afghanistan.

Also, Huntsman Jr. believes the U.S. should cooperate with China for counteraction to the DPRK nuclear program.

In 2016, he levelled sharp criticism at Donald Trump’s electoral program but supported him after the election.