2014-04-11T214753Z_1_CBREA3A1OJX00_RTROPTP_2_TUNISIA

Deputy Secretary of State Burns to retire in October

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns addresses a news conference in TunisBy Arshad Mohammed WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, who led secret talks with Iran that led to an agreement to curb its nuclear program and who served as the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East as well as ambassador to Russia, will retire in October, officials said on Friday. The departure of the Arabic-, French- and Russian-speaking official will be felt at the State Department, where he was regarded as the leading career diplomat of his generation and only the second to rise to deputy secretary of state. In a 32-year career, Burns held some of the most sensitive and influential jobs in American diplomacy, including as undersecretary for political affairs from 2008 to 2011, ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008 and assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs from 2001 to 2005. “He has been a skilled advisor, consummate diplomat and inspiration to generations of public servants,” said U.S. President Barack Obama, adding that he had asked Burns to delay his retirement earlier this year.

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