The Washington Post has reported Harry Harris is being considered for a diplomatic sea change. (Reuters: Yuri Gripas)
America’s top military commander in the Pacific says becoming US ambassador to Australia would be a “cool job” and he is “flattered” to be named a possible candidate for the diplomatic posting.
In August, The Washington Post reported President Donald Trump was considering naming US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris to the coveted position.
On Thursday night, the colourful military commander responded for the first time to the speculation in a video address recorded for the annual dinner of the Institute For Regional Security held in Canberra.
Addressing what he described as the “elephant”, or “kangaroo in the room”, Admiral Harris said he had been “flattered by the warm response” to reports the White House was considering sending him to Australia.
His comments, played to an audience which included Attorney General George Brandis, Defence Chief Air Marshall Mark Binskin and Acting US Ambassador James Carouso, did not deny he could soon be coming to Canberra.
The 61-year-old outspoken critic of China’s aggressive maritime activities is in the final year of his three-year tour and is set to retire early next year.
Admiral Harris, who met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in New York in May, is also a regular visitor to Australia and is well known to both sides of federal politics.
Privately, Australian Government figures have expressed dismay that the post of US ambassador remains vacant eight months into the administration of Donald Trump.