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Former Australian leader Kevin Rudd appointed US ambassador

CANBERRA, Australia — Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been chosen as the nation’s next ambassador to the United States.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the appointment Tuesday, citing Rudd’s roles as leader and foreign minister as well as his academic background as a China scholar and previous work in the U.S. Albanese said Rudd would begin early next year.

“Dr. Rudd brings unmatched experience to the role,” Albanese said.

In a statement, Rudd said he was greatly honored to be chosen. He said Australia faces the most challenging security and diplomatic environment it has in decades.

Rudd served as prime minister from 2007 to 2010 and again briefly in 2013 before his center-left Labor party lost a general election. He served as foreign minister from 2010 to 2012.

Australia has a rough-and-tumble political style, and Rudd was abruptly replaced as prime minister by Julia Gillard in 2010, who was then herself abruptly replaced by Rudd in 2013.

Rudd has often been a divisive figure in Australian politics, and reporters on Tuesday questioned Albanese about appointing somebody who had a reputation as a micromanager and who has been harshly critical of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and former President Donald Trump.

Albanese said Rudd was an “outstanding appointment” and the U.S. would view the choice of a former prime minister as “very significant.”

“I am very pleased that Kevin Rudd is prepared to do this,” Albanese said. “He certainly doesn’t need to do this. He’s doing it out of a part of what he sees as his service obligation to the country that he loves. And I am sure that he will serve very well.”

Rudd, who speaks Mandarin, is currently serving as president and chief executive of the Asia Society in New York.

He has lived in the U.S. for most of the past decade, working first at the Harvard Kennedy School researching U.S.-China relations, followed by eight years in various roles at the Asia Society.

“In some ways, my new position will not be dissimilar to the work I have been undertaking at Asia Society to support greater cooperation between the U.S. and the countries of our region — experience which should hold me in good stead for the challenge ahead,” Rudd said in his statement.

Albanese said he plans to visit the U.S. at some point next year, and for President Joe Biden to visit Australia when it hosts a meeting of leaders from the four-nation Quad group, which also includes Japan and India.

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