Ex-Utah Governor Huntsman Accepts Trump Offer to Be Ambassador to Russia: Official

White House Reuters

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2012, file photo, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, announces he is ending his campaign for president in Myrtle Beach, S.C. A White House official says Huntsman is President Donald Trump's choice to be the next U.S. ambassador to ... Russia. Huntsman will take the diplomatic post as senior members of Trump's administration face questions about their contact with the Russian government. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File) (AP)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Utah Republican Governor Jon Huntsman has accepted President Donald Trump's offer to be ambassador to Russia, an administration official said on Wednesday.

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The job, which requires Senate confirmation, would put Huntsman in Moscow at a time when U.S.-Russian ties have sunk to a post-Cold War low.

Huntsman served as ambassador to China under Democratic President Barack Obama before launching an unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump has said he wants to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which deteriorated under Obama over issues including Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea and the two countries' backing of opposing sides in the Syrian civil war.

The tensions peaked in December when Obama expelled 35 Russian suspected spies after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia hacked and leaked Democratic emails during the 2016 election campaign as part of an effort to tilt the vote in Trump's favor. The Kremlin has denied the allegations.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Washington Newsroom; Editing by Peter Cooney)