Jon Huntsman Jr. talks key issues facing US and Russia at ceremonial swearing-in at Utah State Capitol

Posted at 7:59 PM, Oct 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-08 00:17:06-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Governor Gary Herbert ceremonially swore in Jon M. Huntsman Jr. as the next United States Ambassador to Russia Saturday afternoon.

Herbert said Huntsman approached him about the ceremony and he was honored.

“A nation calls and says, 'Who is our best and our brightest and one who has the skills necessary to see if we cannot navigate and foster better relationships between America and Russia?' That call goes out to Jon M. Huntsman Jr. to take on this significant responsibility," Herbert said.

Huntsman is part of a family heavily involved in public service. He served as ambassador to both China and Singapore, and also served as Governor of Utah.

He said ambassadorship is something he is not only glad to do, but honored. After thank yous and a brief speech from his wife, Mary Kaye Huntsman, he quickly got down to business and spoke of United States and Russian relations.

“We shouldn’t think this will be easy or that it will be quick, but I believe that with good will on both sides we can turn a corner and begin to work together effectively on addressing several key issues," Huntsman said.

He said there are three key issues the nations need to address together. First, he spoke of relations with North Korea, calling the country an "unacceptable threat to its neighbors including Russia and the U.S.”

“North Korea is an international threat and not just an American problem," Huntsman said.

He believes Russia and the United States, if united in efforts, can force North Korea to the negotiating table to find a diplomatic solution.

He said the countries must also restore sovereignty to Ukraine and defeat Isis, as well as the "Syrian people's suffering."

“We must work together to find a durable political solution for this war-torn country that maintains the territorial integrity of the Syrian state and protects the interest of all its citizens," he said.

Huntsman believes people-to-people connections are the "most important" and will help in solving these issues.

He also spoke of resolving ongoing disagreements and concerns related to the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Open Skies Treaty and New START Treaty.

“Once we’re able to make progress on these issues and rebuild some trust, we can look to other areas where it is in our mutual interest to work together,” he said, adding action drives perception, which he said is important in a time where Americans "believe Russia wants to undermine American democracy."

Huntsman and his wife Mary Kaye recently got home from Moscow with a stop in Washington. They said they are packing up the last of their Utah home and will quickly be on their way to their new home in Moscow.