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US Ambassador To China Will Step Down Early 2014

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(Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)

(Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)

BEIJING — The American ambassador to China said Wednesday he will step down from his post early next year to rejoin his family in Seattle.

Gary Locke said that he informed President Barack Obama of his decision when they met earlier this month.

Locke, who is married with three children, took up the post in August 2011 and was the first Chinese-American to hold it.

Locke said in a statement that he was proud of what the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China have accomplished, including increasing U.S. exports to China, promoting Chinese investment in the U.S. and reducing waiting times for a visa to three to five from highs of 70-100 days, which has “significantly increased” Chinese business and tourism travel there.

He said that during his tenure embassy officials advanced American values by meeting with religious leaders and human rights lawyers and visiting Tibetan and Uighur ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang.

Locke said U.S.-China relations continue to grow stronger despite a complex relationship. “I remain confident in the ability of our leaders to manage differences and increase cooperation in areas of mutual concern to the benefit of not just our two great peoples, but the entire world,” he said.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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