U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee March 6, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee—Getty Images
By Noah Rayman
April 11, 2014

The State Department said Friday that its second in command will retire in October.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, a career diplomat who led the White House’s behind-the-scene efforts to bring Iran to the negotiating table, is only the second career Foreign Service officer to hold his post.

He has twice delayed his departure, including the second time as the request of President Barack Obama, according to the New York Times.

“Since I took office, I have 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,” Obama said in a statement. “The country is stronger for Bill’s service.

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