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US senate appoints Iraq ambassador
Vote confirms Christopher Hill in post after debate on diplomatic experience.
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2009 04:43 GMT
Hill has dealt with sectarian tensions and multi-party diplomacy in the past [AFP]

The US senate has appointed Christopher Hill to be the country's ambassador to Iraq.

Hill was confirmed in the post on Tuesday by 73 to 23 votes.

Barack Obama, the US president, had recommended Hill, a diplomat with many years of experience.

It was argued that Hill's expertise in dealing with sectarian relations in the Balkans and diplomacy in talks with North Korea - which included the main world powers - would suit Iraq's internal pressures and foreign relations.

John Kerry, a Democratic senator who chairs the senate foreign relations committee, said: "He has a great deal of experience with the skills that matter the most for the resolution of remaining issues in Iraq."

Hill will oversee the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq by the end of 2011.

However, towards the end of George Bush's presidency, Hill was criticised for the way he handled the six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear programme.

Detractors

Sam Brownback, a Republican senator, said that Hill had not considered Pyongyang's human rights record in negotiations and that he had drawn up a flawed agreement with North Korea.

"The deeds of ambassador Hill on North Korea: No progress on human rights, terrible deal, failed diplomacy," Brownback said in his final speech before the confirmation vote.

"The only thing dismantled in the six-party talks was our strategic deterrence and moral authority."

Detractors also say that he lacks experience in the Middle East and does not speak Arabic.

Hill's appointment was supported by General Ray Odierno, the commander of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, the US commander of forces in the region, and Ryan Crocker, his predecessor, who left the post earlier this year.

Hill's brief will also include helping to undertake parliamentary elections, the passing of a long-awaited law on the sharing of oil revenues and aiding the nation's regional relations.

Source:
Agencies
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