- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby will retire from the military and move to the State Department to be that agency’s new public face, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Secretary of State John Kerry tapped Kirby to be the department’s spokesman because of his deep experience and knowledge of international issues and the fact that he is widely seen as a non-political face, the officials said.

Kirby will replace Jen Psaki, a former spokeswoman for President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, who left the State Department last month to become White House communications director.

Kirby, who served as top communications aide to former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and was ex-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s spokesman from 2013, won’t begin formal briefings at the State Department until his military retirement, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the paperwork for Kirby’s appointment isn’t yet finalized.

The officials said acting State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf may remain in the building to handle broader strategic communications and press issues related to the ongoing Iran nuclear talks. Harf, a former spokeswoman for the CIA and the Obama campaign, has been the lead press contact for the U.S. delegation at the Iran negotiations for nearly two years.

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