WASHINGTON - One of America's longest serving, most experienced and highest-ranking diplomats, Deputy Secretary Bill Burns , who led secret talks with Iran in recent years, is to retire this year, officials said late Friday. President Barack Obama praised Burns for his 32-year career saying he had "relied on him for candid advice and sensitive diplomatic missions. He has been a skilled advisor, consummate diplomat , and inspiration to generations of public servants."
Secretary of State John Kerry said Burns , who had agreed to put his retirement on hold when Kerry took up his post in 2013, had had an "enormous impact and influence in untold ways."
Burns , who has worked under 10 secretaries of state, was "a diplomat 's diplomat , with this terrifically rare mix of strategic vision and operational skill," Kerry said in a statement."