Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick has announced his resignation and plans to take a new job in the private sector with the Wall Street investment firm Goldman Sachs.
Robert Zoellick is the second-ranking official in the State Department and says he is stepping down after six years of government service in various positions under President Bush.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised Zoellick, saying he is an intellectual leader who has made America stronger and safer.
"He has been one of my closest and most valued advisors on every single international issue, from advancing security and democracy in Iraq, to checking the nuclear weapons ambitions of Iran, from forging a new partnership with a changing India, to expanding our common agenda with all allies in Europe and the Americas," she said.
Rice singled out Zoellick's commitment to bring peace to Sudan, and trying to end the genocide in the Darfur region.
"In particular, Bob has led the way to success on a handful of really difficult challenges," she said. "He has been indispensable in our efforts to bring peace to Sudan and to end the violence in Darfur, personally leading the U.S. delegation that helped to secure the Darfur peace agreement last month. Bob has also helped us to launch a wide-ranging strategic dialog with China."
Before joining the State Department, Zoellick was the U.S. Trade Representative who completed negotiations to bring China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization.
Zoellick says during his term at the State Department he has accomplished his goals and the time has come to step down.
"I am pleased to have helped to build a first-rate team at the State Department, offer counsel on a number of initiatives, back up the secretary given her active agenda and travel schedule and taken personal charge of some issues, especially with China and Southeast Asia, Latin America, Sudan, international economic topics and helping with the Congress," he said.
News reports say Zoellick was interested in becoming secretary of the Treasury, but President Bush nominated Goldman Sachs executive Henry Paulson to that post.
Zoellick is expected to leave his current job in the coming weeks and there was no immediate announcement on a replacement.