Top US Diplomat To China Resigns Over Trump's Paris Decision

Sources Acting US ambassador to China quit over Trump climate decision

Win McNamee Getty Images President Donald Trump makes announcement that U.S. will pull out of the Paris climate accord

A top diplomat at the USA embassy in Beijing has stepped down, apparently because he disagreed with President Donald Trump's climate change policy.

Veteran China reporter John Pomfret tweeted the news yesterday, citing unnamed sources which said that Rank "couldn't back Trump on climate" and had found himself unable to deliver a formal notification to the Chinese government regarding the U.S. withdrawal from the global accord.

The State Department has already informed the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Jonathan Fritz would be the new charges d'affaires, until former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad completes diplomat training.

A State Department spokeswoman confirmed Rank's departure, but said she was unable to verify Twitter posts that said he resigned as he felt unable to deliver a formal notification to China of the US decision last week to quit the agreement.

As the head of the embassy until Branstad arrives, it was Rank's responsibility to deliver a formal notification of the USA intention to withdraw from the climate pact.

Rank's decision was reported earlier on Twitter by John Pomfret, an editor-at-large with SupChina. His decision was a personal one, and the department appreciates his "years of dedicated service", a State Department official said.

Trump announced on Thursday that he had chose to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, a landmark global pact to fight climate change.

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But sources familiar with the decision indicated that Rank's departure is directly tied to Trump's controversial move to pull out of the accord.

It also comes at a time when secretary of state Rex Tillerson has come under fire for the slow pace of filling top posts in his department.

China, the world's largest carbon emitter, said it would stick by its commitments to the treaty despite the U.S. decision.

Rank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Baucus's replacement, Branstad, was confirmed by the Senate last month but hasn't arrived in China yet.

Rank had been with the department for 27 years and served as the political councillor at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012.

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