“I don’t want to screw up”, says Obama’s Iraq envoy

March 25, 2009

KOREA-NORTH/KIMSeasoned U.S. diplomat Chris Hill showed some jitters on Wednesday over being nominated as next U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

“I just don’t want to screw it up,” said Hill, in fairly undiplomatic language at a confirmation hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

As new U.S. ambassador, Hill would oversee the drawdown of U.S. troops.

Hill has faced some opposition as next U.S. ambassador to Iraq but he had a fairly smooth hearing on Wednesday.

Critics Arizona Sen. John McCain and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who have questioned Hill’s lack of Middle East experience and whether he was tough enough in talks with North Korea, were not on the panel.

Hill is currently the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and has also served as ambassador to Poland, Macedonia and South Korea. He was also envoy on six-nation talks over scrapping North Korea’s nuclear program.

The veteran diplomat is expected to clear a vote by the panel next week but opponents could seek to delay a vote on the Senate floor.

The panel’s chairman, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and top Republican Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar urged Hill’s confirmation as soon as possible.

While showing some apprehension over his new posting, Hill said he was looking forward to a family reunion in Iraq. His son is stationed with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency in Iraq.

Hill told senators he hoped he hadn’t blown his son’s cover by revealing that.


REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak  (U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill speaks to reporters in Seoul)

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