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Acting U.S. ambassador in China quits over climate deal withdrawal

 (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

The acting U.S. ambassador in China has resigned after saying he could not support President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

State Department officials confirmed Tuesday that David Rank, a highly-regarded diplomat with nearly three decades of service at the State Department, had resigned his post in what they described as a "personal" decision.

But Rank told embassy staffers that he refused to inform China of Trump's withdrawal last week from the historic accord and, as a consequence, felt obliged to step down, a State Department official said, speaking anonymously to discuss internal matters.

Rank reportedly told his staff that "as a father and as a Christian" he could not go along with Trump on leaving the vital environmental pact, which aims to limit global warming, according to the official.

China and the United States are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which the accord seeks to reduce so that global temperatures will not rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels.

Almost every country in the world signed the agreement, with China and the Obama administration leading the way. Only Syria, Nicaragua and now the United States have rejected it.

In announcing his plans to withdraw last week, Trump said the accord would undermine the U.S. economy and "weaken our sovereignty."

Ranks' resignation comes as the State Department and numerous other government agencies are struggling to fill key positions.

Just eight of 120 State Department posts, including ambassadorships, that require Senate confirmation have been filled, the Partnership for Public Service said last week.

It often falls to less experienced diplomats and other officers to handle delicate policy with so many senior positions still unfilled by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the White House.

The Senate last month confirmed Terry Branstad to be U.S. ambassador to China, but the former Iowa governor has not yet taken up his post in Beijing.

Eric Pelofsky, a former Middle East advisor to Obama, described Rank on Twitter as "an amicable, dedicated, hardworking, apolitical @StateDept public servant/FSO."


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