Ambassadors React to Bolton Appointment
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John Bolton has already moved to the United Nations where his fellow diplomats are saying all the correct things. President Bush named Bolton to be UN ambassador yesterday. He used a recess appointment, acting while Congress is away to bypass Senate opposition. Some lawmakers said the US should not be represented by a harsh critic of the UN with an abrasive management style who was accused of trying to distort intelligence information. As he made the appointment, President Bush described Bolton as a man who would insist on results and confront problems head-on. UN ambassadors say they will be happy to judge for themselves as Linda Fasulo reports from New York.
LINDA FASULO reporting:
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had words of welcome for Ambassador Bolton yesterday.
Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN (United Nations): We look forward to working with him, as I do, with the other hundred and ninety ambassadors, and we will welcome him at a time when we're in the midst of major reform.
FASULO: The United States has long called for reform at the United Nations, complaining of bloated bureaucracy and inadequate controls on spending. John Bolton has been one of the strongest US advocates for major reform.
As President Bush appointed Bolton yesterday, he reminded Americans why he wanted this particular man for this particular job.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm sending Ambassador Bolton to New York with my complete confidence. Ambassador Bolton believes passionately in the goals of the United Nations Charter, to advance peace and liberty and human rights. His mission is now to help the UN reform itself to renew its founding promises for the 21st century.
FASULO: Annan says he understands that the US is pushing for reform at the UN, but when asked how hard Ambassador Bolton should press for reform, he offered a word of cautionary advice.
Secretary-General ANNAN: It is all right for one ambassador to come and push, but an ambassador always has to remember that there are a hundred and ninety others who will have to be convinced or a vast majority of them for action to take place. And so I think if one comes with that spirit, that spirit of give and take, that ambassador will succeed.
FASULO: As for the attitudes of Bolton's new colleagues, the other UN ambassadors, Brazil's chief diplomat, Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, summed it up this way for the record.
Mr. RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Chief Diplomat, Brazil): We do have here at the United Nations a tradition to work together. I mean--and it is our hope and expectation that this tradition will be maintained. We don't question or make any specific judgment about his particular status at this moment.
FASULO: Even speaking privately, ambassadors from other member states were generally reluctant to criticize Bolton and stressed the need to focus on the many challenges at hand. Indeed, the problems Ambassador Bolton will face during his first few months on the job include the crisis in Darfur, the ongoing Iraq War, Lebanon's efforts to assert its independence from Syria, the possibility of the Security Council's having to deal with Iran's nuclear program and the upcoming Volker report on possible corruption in the UN oil-for-food program. With so many international problems, one European diplomat who insisted on anonymity put it this way. `We can't afford a feud with the United States.'
In his previous job as undersecretary of State for arms control, Ambassador Bolton was criticized for contravening US policy. As he accepted his new appointment to the UN yesterday, Bolton emphasized that he would take his cues from his bosses.
Ambassador JOHN BOLTON (United Nations): I'm profoundly honored, indeed humbled, by the confidence that you have shown by appointing me to serve as United States permanent representative to the United Nations. You have made your directions for US policy at the United Nations clear and I am prepared to work tirelessly to carry out the agenda and initiatives that you and Secretary Rice direct.
FASULO: Ambassador Bolton is wasting no time. He presents his credentials to Kofi Annan today.
For NPR News, I'm Linda Fasulo in New York.
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