U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday named an Air Force veteran as the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, the White House said.

David Stilwell was tapped to be assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, it said in a statement. If confirmed by the Senate, Stilwell will complete the lineup of senior U.S. diplomats handling Korea issues.

The White House said Stilwell has more than 35 years of experience as a pilot, commander and Korean linguist. He is currently director of the China Strategic Focus Group at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii and an adjunct senior fellow at the East West Center in Honolulu.

The nominee retired in 2015 with the rank of brigadier general after serving as staff officer for Joint Staff Plans and Policy at the Pentagon and defense attache at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

He speaks Korean, Chinese and some Japanese.

Stilwell's nomination comes at a critical juncture in U.S. diplomatic relations with the region, with a second nuclear summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the works and escalating trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Source: Yonhap News Agency