Obama administration officials say the second-highest ranking American diplomat intends to retire this fall.

The officials said Friday that Deputy Secretary of State William Burns plans to step down in October, following a 32-year career in the foreign service that included stints as U.S. ambassador to Russia and Jordan, top Middle East hand and leader of a team that held secret talks with Iran.

Burns had several times delayed retirement at the request of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Burns is just the second career diplomat to hold the No. 2 job at the State Department. In 2012, he was tasked with leading a small team of U.S. officials in covert discussions with Iran that resulted in the current negotiations over that country's nuclear program.