Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hill confirmed as US Iraq envoy

The US Senate has confirmed Christopher Hill, the former US chief negotiator with North Korea, as the next American ambassador to Iraq.

The career diplomat was approved in a Senate vote, 73-23, despite fierce opposition from Republicans.

Critics say he lacks Middle East experience and mishandled multilateral talks with North Korea.

As the top US envoy to Iraq, Mr Hill would head the new administration's approach to the country.

President Barack Obama has said the US plans to begin moves to "responsibly leave Iraq".

Mr Hill, who has wide experience in Europe and Asia, headed the US delegation to the six-nation disarmament talks with Pyongyang.

He replaces Ryan Crocker, an Arabist and Middle East expert.

With General David Petraeus, Mr Crocker was behind changes in US policy in Iraq, credited by some with helping to reduce the violence there.

The US president is seeking a withdrawal from Iraq, in order to shift more combat troops to Afghanistan.