Reports have it that several senior Asia hands in the U.S. administration including the ambassador to Seoul will be replaced soon. In the third year of his presidency, U.S. President Barack Obama is conducting a massive reshuffle of his White House staff, including his aides. Some senior staffers, including Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, will be replaced.
Observers speculate that Obama is putting close aides into less busy outside jobs so they can help him prepare for his second bid for the presidency in 2012.
No detailed plan has been announced, but speculation is rife in Washington that the Obama administration is replacing senior officials involved in Korean affairs.
National Security Council Senior Director for Asia Jeffrey Bader, who is in charge of formulating policies toward Asia including the Korean Peninsula, will likely leave his post at the NSC "weeks or months from now" after the U.S.-China summit on Jan. 19, Foreign Policy magazine reported Wednesday.
Replacement candidates mentioned are Daniel Russell, director for Asian affairs at the NSC, and Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia,
Joseph Donovan, a deputy assistant secretary of state, is being considered to replace Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens, Foreign Policy added. Stephens is in an awkward situation due to WikiLeaks' recent disclosure of her diplomatic cables.
A diplomatic source said Stephens "would be naturally included in a regular reshuffle when she completes her three-year tour later this year. But it's interesting that her replacement is being talked about already."