Hill appointed US Iraq ambassador
Former North Korea negotiator chosen to replace Ryan Crocker in Baghdad.
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2009 22:20 GMT
Hill is best known for his role in talks
with North Korea [AFP]

Barack Obama, the US president, has confirmed that Christopher Hill, a veteran US diplomat, is to become the new US ambassador to Iraq.

Hill is a career foreign service diplomat who served as the lead US negotiator in six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear programme during the administration of George Bush, Obama's predecessor.

"From his time in the Peace Corps, to his work in Kosovo and Korea, ambassador Hill has been tested, and he has shown the pragmatism and skill that we need right now," Obama said on Friday.

Obama confirmed the move as he announced that the US would withdraw combat troops from Iraq by August 2010.

Hill is considered an ally of Richard Holbrooke, now the US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, who is best known for brokering the Dayton Peace Accords.

Officials had said earlier this month that Hill was the leading candidate to replace Ryan Crocker as the most senior US diplomat in Baghdad.

'Tough assignment'

He had earlier served as a negotiator in the crises in Bosnia and Kosovo, but is best known for his role in the North Korea talks.

Under a landmark agreement signed in 2007, North Korea agreed with its five partners -  the US, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia - to scrap its nuclear programmes in exchange for energy aid.

But further negotiations deadlocked late last year over a dispute with North Korea over how to verify nuclear disarmament.

Last month, Hill admitted the North Korea talks had been "a pretty tough assignment" and that there had been "too many interruptions" in the negotiations.

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