Ranking U.S. diplomat in China David Rank resigns

Experts and foreign service officers have lamented that the United States decision to leave the Paris accord will create a leadership vacuum on climate issues that China's leaders are eager to fill. His decision was a personal one, and the department appreciates his "years of dedicated service", a State Department official said.

Top U.S. diplomat David Rank in China has resigned following President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord.

David Rank, a career foreign service officer of 27 years, had been acting ambassador until former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad was confirmed as the new ambassador last month.

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A state department spokeswoman confirmed Rank's departure but said she was unable to confirm reports that he resigned as he felt unable to deliver a formal notification to China of the USA decision last week to quit the agreement.

Although Rank meant to resign his position by the end of the year, it is rare for Foreign Service officers to leave because of personal political opinion; they typically represent the United States overseas regardless of administration decisions, The Washington Post said Tuesday.

The source says Rank called a town hall meeting of embassy employees Monday afternoon.

In the wake of Trump's announcement hundreds of regional United States leaders have vowed to uphold the deal even without White House support. The official spoke on condition of anonymity. Feldman said the State Department was "losing incredibly gifted officers at a moment when the USA needed them more than any other time in recent history". Most senior jobs in the department, down to the assistant secretary level, remain unfilled, and a new wave of departures was announced internally last week, including Arnold Chacon, who oversees human resources at the department, and executive secretary Joseph Macmanus, who is leaving to become a special adviser.

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"First of all, there is absolutely no reality [in what Trump alleged]", India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters Monday.

Rank joined the State Department in 1990 and served in a variety of roles including in Afghanistan, Greece, and Mauritius.

Other than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, his deputy John Sullivan and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, the third-ranking USA diplomat, most of the State Department's senior posts are now vacant or filled by acting officials.

The State Department moved swiftly to replace Rank, informing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Jonathan Fritz would be the new charges d'affaires, the deputy who heads the mission in the ambassador's absence.

Chacon could not immediately be reached for comment.

He has said withdrawing the USA from the 2015 Paris agreement - under which 188 countries committed to limiting rises in global temperatures - would protect the U.S. economy.

"The world has paid attention to the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing on Tuesday, but added that personnel changes were the United States' "internal affairs".

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