Margaret Tutwiler, the former State Department spokeswoman nominated to run the department's worldwide "public diplomacy" confessed on Wednesday that she knew the gravity of the problem from "troubling and disturbing" views she heard as ambassador to Morocco.

But Tutwiler said she was confident that US officials could start "digging our country out from this situation that we unfortunately find ourselves in much of the world."

The US Senate is expected to confirm Tutwiler in the position of undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, the official responsible for explaining US policy to foreign public opinion.

Big challenge

Tutwiler assumes her new responsibility at a time when US image lies in tatters, despite millions of dollars being spent on publicity.

In the aftermath of the Iraq war, much of the world sees the country as a bully. US policy on the Middle East has further sullied its reputation.

Critics of the Bush administration say the problem is with US policies and not with the way they are presented.

Senate hearing

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a confirmation hearing, Tutwiler gave no indication what she thought might be the root of the image problem.

"We are trying to figure out how best to fix the situation in which we find ourselves," she said.

She said that her approach would be to concentrate on "activities that are actually in the field making a difference."

Tutwiler succeeds Charlotte Beers, a former advertising executive who resigned from the State Department because of ill health.