Washington, Feb 01 (Agencies): US Ambassador to China Jon M Huntsman Jr tendered his resigned to the White House, amid reports that he is likely to challenge Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential polls.

Jon Huntsman, 50, hand-delivered his resignation on Monday in which he said that he wants to return to his home state Utah by May. He will step down from his post in April.

Outgoing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Huntsman, a Republican, had hinted that he would leave his present  assignment and that a search to find a replacement for him had already begun.

"When the (US) President picked him in 2009, it was because we believed, and continue to believe, he brings a broad range of experience to an  extremely important ambassadorial post with one of our most important relationships in the world. The President continues to believe that," said Gibbs.

Huntsman resigned from his governorship of Utah in 2009 after Obama named him as ambassador to China.

"The President and I think the American people, expect that somebody that holds the post of ambassador from the United States to China would  dedicate their full energy and time to that position. And we believe that Ambassador Huntsman believes that as well," Gibbs said in response to a question.

Huntsman has played a crucial role in shaping the China policy of the Obama Administration.