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FILE PHOTO: Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov speaks to the media during a news conference in Moscow March 5, 2015. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo


MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Anatoly Antonov is the ideal choice to be the next Russian ambassador to the United States, his colleague said on Wednesday.

Antonov's nomination for the post, which has yet to be approved by the Kremlin, comes at a time of intense scrutiny over Moscow-Washington relations following U.S. allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said his colleague was the "optimal" candidate for the position.

"He worked for six years as a deputy minister of defence of the Russian Federation," Ryabkov said during a panel discussion on Russian TV. "This is priceless experience for his future work in Washington, and the authority adds to his experience as an excellent negotiator."

Antonov, born in 1955, holds a doctorate in political science, and speaks English and Burmese, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry website.

The White House said on Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump would nominate Jon Huntsman, a former envoy to China, as his new ambassador to Russia.

Ryabkov said the Russian Foreign Ministry had approved Huntsman's nomination. "We gave our consent. We know well the biography of Mr Huntsman and understand that he is a professional," he said.

If confirmed, Huntsman, who has long been expected to be Trump's pick for the job, will head to Moscow as the U.S. Congress and a special counsel investigate Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and allegations that Trump's campaign had ties to Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the interference, and Trump has said there was no collusion with Moscow.

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Alison Williams)

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