Bolton Tapped to Be Next U.N. Ambassador
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Bolton Tapped to Be Next U.N. Ambassador

The Associated Press | March 8, 2005
By LIZ SIDOTI

President Bush's choice as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the outspoken John R. Bolton, likely will face a tough Senate confirmation hearing before Democrats who argue that he has disdained the world body and Republicans who are wary of him.

Now undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Bolton was named Monday for the U.N. post.

Almost immediately, Democrats objected that Bush had chosen a vocal United Nations critic although they see a pressing need to repair international relations. Bolton has criticized the U.N.'s bureaucracy and some of its peacekeeping operations, among other objections he has raised over a decade.

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Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he was surprised at the selection and that Bolton's "stated attitude toward the United Nations gives me great pause."

The Republican chairman of the committee, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, told reporters: "I'm going to reserve any comments about the appropriateness or not of the president's choice."

Confirmation hearings are expected next month.

The appointment comes at a crucial time: U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is going forward with plans to reform the world body, and U.S. opinion of the United Nations, particularly in Congress, is at a low.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, anticipating a possible fight over confirmation, said that "through our history some of our best ambassadors have been those with strong voices." She singled out former U.N. ambassadors Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

In 2001, 43 Democratic senators opposed Bolton's nomination for his current post. He was confirmed anyway.

During his tenure, Bolton has rankled lawmakers with his tough foreign policy talk. However, on Monday, he promised to work closely with Congress to advance Bush's policies. "Working closely with others is essential to ensure a safer world," he added.

If confirmed, Bolton, 56, would succeed former Sen. John Danforth, who retired in January.

At the United Nations, diplomats were optimistic.

"I hope that once he is here he will have a deeper perception of what the U.N. is about," Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said.

Algerian ambassador Abdallah Baali said, "I think when he joins the United Nations he will certainly adapt his views to the United Nations, and I am sure we will work together in a very constructive way."

Asked about Bolton's past criticisms of the organization, Argentinian ambassador Cesar Mayoral replied: "People change."

In Washington, Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee assailed Bolton.

Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut said Bolton's "antipathy to the U.N. will prevent him from effectively discharging his duties as our ambassador." And Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said: "Quite simply, Mr. Bolton's nomination carries with it baggage we cannot afford."

Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia praised Bolton as "just the kind of man we need to represent the United States at the United Nations" because he will scrutinize its actions and expenditures.

Other Republicans on the committee were far more reserved.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., said in a statement: "I have been assured that he will bring a more balanced approach to his new role." Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., told reporters that he wanted to see whether Bolton has the skills to deal with an institution riddled with scandals. "It needs reform. It needs reform badly, and to just go up there and kick the United Nations around doesn't get the job done," Hagel said.

Known for a hard-edged approach, Bolton's previous comments about troublesome foreign issues and regimes have been far from diplomatic.

In a strongly worded speech in Tokyo last month, Bolton lashed out at China for not stopping its munitions companies from selling missile technology to Iran and other nations the United States considers rogue states.

Two years ago, Bolton denounced North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as a "tyrannical dictator" and described life under the ruler as "a hellish nightmare."

Furious, a North Korean spokesman fired back that "such human scum and bloodsucker" would be closed out of negotiations over the country's nuclear weapons program.


Arab nations wary of Bolton nomination

Associated Press | March 8, 2005
By LEE KEATH

CAIRO, Egypt -The United States' nomination of a hard-edged arms control official as U.N. ambassador raised concerns Tuesday in the Middle East that Washington is signaling a tougher stance, particularly on Iran's nuclear program and the standoff with Syria.

John R. Bolton was nominated for the post at a time when the world body is deeply involved with both Syria and Iran, pressing Damascus to pull its military out of Lebanon and trying to determine the extent of Tehran's nuclear program.

His tough talk on a wide range of issues - from North Korea's nuclear program to reforms at the United Nations - already has raised concerns among Democrats in the U.S. Congress that President Bush is putting forward such a vocal critic as Washington seeks to improve relations with its allies.

Some in the Middle East saw Bolton's nomination, announced Monday, as a sign that hard-liners in favor of a more aggressive U.S. policy abroad are becoming stronger in Washington.

"This is an extremely bad message that Bush has submitted to the neo-conservatives," said Imad Shoueibi, a Syrian political analyst in Damascus. "They should have a more moderate figure representing them at the United Nations, but instead they have one of the most radical."

The Iranian government vowed Tuesday to stand up to any harder American pressure.

"The presence of hard-liner Bolton in the U.N. prepares the ground for U.S. intervention in the organization while reform of the U.N. structure and review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are on the agenda," Iran's state-run radio said in a commentary.

"But Bolton will not achieve this because the world community will resist him."

As undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Bolton has played a role in making the U.S. case that Iran is trying to deceive the U.N. atomic watchdog agency and seeks to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program aims only to produce electricity.

Bolton visited Gulf nations in January and February, telling reporters that "all the countries we consulted with agree with our fundamental bottom line, that Iran shouldn't have nuclear weapons."

Mohamed Wahby, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, an independent think tank that often advises the Egyptian government, said, "I am sure that any country that is opposed to the United States, like Iran and Syria, will have a few bad days over Bolton's nomination."

The U.N. Security Council has called for Syria to pull its 14,000 troops out of Lebanon, where Damascus has long wielded control - and the United States has hiked up the pressure, demanding Syria get out by May. Syria has begun pulling its forces back toward the border but has been vague on a timetable for removing them completely.

"I expect the United Nations to play a bigger role with regards to Syria and Iran," said Mohamed Kamal, deputy director of the American Studies Center at Cairo University. "And with Mr. Bolton being there as head of the U.S. mission it would mean the U.S. position on these two specific issues will be tougher."

On a broader level, Bolton's nomination signals that Washington is ready to push hard in its calls for greater democracy in Arab nations and for change at the United Nations.

"The Bush administration is reinforcing one message - the idea of reform, because this is the one thing on the U.S. government's mind, whether it be reform in the Middle East or of the United Nations," Wahby said.

Known for a hard-edged approach, Bolton's previous comments about troublesome foreign issues and regimes have been far from diplomatic.

In a strongly worded speech in Tokyo last month, Bolton lashed out at China for not stopping its munitions companies from selling missile technology to Iran and other nations the United States considers rogue states.

Two years ago, Bolton denounced North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as a "tyrannical dictator" and described life under the ruler as "a hellish nightmare." Furious, a North Korean spokesman fired back that "such human scum and bloodsucker" would be closed out of negotiations over the country's nuclear weapons program.

 

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