The current US Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, has a history with two organizations which Russia has designated as “undesirable” and one marked as a “foreign agent.” His connections in business, however, could assist him to negotiate trade deals, media speculated.
US President Donald Trump is considering the candidacy of Biegun, who currently serves as the US Special Representative for North Korea, to replace outgoing Jon Huntsman, whose assignment to Russia ends in October, CNN reported Tuesday, citing two officials from the administration.
The Hill report speculated that Biegun can be seen as a good replacement due to his rich history with Russia in the 90s.
According to the report, Biegun, who has a bachelor’s degrees in the Russian language and in political science, worked as an in-country director for the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Moscow between 1992-1994.
In 2015, however, Moscow designated IRI as an “undesirable,” a legal term applied to foreign or international organizations whose activity is considered harmful to Russia.
The same fate befell the US Russia Foundation (USRF), where Biegun is also a member of the board. Biegun has been shown to have two connections out of a possible eighteen undesirable organizations.
Biegun also serves as a board member of the Moscow School of Political Studies, a group marked as a “foreign agent” by Russia’s Ministry of Justice.
Biegun also serves in Ford Sollers, a joint venture selling US-made Ford cars in Russia which, according to The Hill, could be beneficial, considering Trump’s focus on international trade.
The official also served as the National Security Council’s executive secretary under US President George W. Bush and spent 14 years as an aid in both chambers of the US Congress, the report noted.
Huntsman, who served as an ambassador in Moscow for two years, reportedly looks forward to a second run for governor of the state of Utah, according to The Hill. He previously occupied this position between 2005-2009.
Richard Grenell, current US ambassador to Germany, has also been floated as a possible replacement for Huntsman, but sources close to the diplomat told CNN that he is not interested in a Moscow posting.