Top US diplomat in China quits over Trump climate policy, sources say

Experts and foreign service officers have lamented that the USA decision to leave the Paris accord will create a leadership vacuum on climate issues that China's leaders are eager to fill.

The decision, which Mr Trump said would protect the U.S. economy, was met with much rancour worldwide.

The number two diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing resigned Monday, telling staff his conscience would not permit him to formally notify the Chinese that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.

A career foreign service officer since 1990, Rank assumed the position of deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Beijing in January 2016 and had been serving until the arrival of Trump's pick for the job, former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who was confirmed by Congress late last month.

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A State Department spokesperson confirmed Rank's departure to NBC News, but said he was "retiring", adding: "Mr. We appreciate his years of dedicated service to the State Department", the official told ABC News.

In another tweet, Pomfret said Rank called a town hall meeting to announce his decision to embassy staff and explained that he could not deliver a diplomatic note informing the Chinese government of the United States decision. Rank has made a personal decision.

He joined the State Department in 1990 and speaks Mandarin, French, Dari and Greek, according to his official biography.

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Climate: What is the Paris Agreement?

Trump's announcement last Thursday that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, saying the agreement would undermine the USA economy and cost jobs, drew anger and condemnation from world leaders and heads of industry.

On June 1, the U.S. State Department accepted the resignation of its top personnel officer, who had been among its few remaining senior Obama administration political appointees, another U.S. official said.

The acceptance of Chacon's resignation was first reported by the DiploPundit website.

Among those is the top USA diplomat for the Middle East, acting assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs and former ambassador to Iraq Stu Jones, who is leaving with his decades of experience in Middle Eastern policy at a time when the challenges to the region and the confusion about America's agenda are both great.

The state department said the embassy's economics councillor Jonathan Fritz would be filling in behind Mr Rank immediately.

Feldman, who was a political appointee in the Obama administration, lamented the loss of Rank - and others like him - from the State Department, saying the administration was "losing incredibly gifted officers at a moment when the USA needed them more than any other time in recent history".

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