April 21st, 2009
07:30 PM ET
13 years ago

Senate confirms Obama's Iraq ambassador

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/21/art.hill0421.gi.jpg caption="The Senate has confirmed Christopher Hill to be the new administration's ambassador to Iraq."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate confirmed veteran diplomat Christopher Hill as U.S. ambassador to Iraq on Tuesday, voting 73-23 to put Hill in chargeof the largest U.S. embassy in the world.

Hill, a career Foreign Service officer, was the lead U.S. negotiator in the now-stalled North Korean disarmament talks. He will take over the Baghdad post at a time when President Barack Obama is attempting to wind down the 6-year-old war in Iraq.

His nomination made it past a key Senate test Monday as opponents failed to block the nomination. All 23 votes against the nomination Tuesday came from Republicans, several of whom argued that the nominee has no hands-on experience in the Middle East and speaks no Arabic.

But Sen. John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Monday that Hill had great experience "in negotiating complex, high-stakes, multilateral deals in conflict zones."

"The entire resolution of Iraq as a success will revolve around the diplomacy that we apply to it and our ability to seek political reconciliation, which will be implemented by that diplomacy," said Kerry, D-Massachusetts. Hill replaces Ryan Crocker, who was the top American diplomat in Baghdad from March 2007 until February.

- CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.

Filed under: Iraq • Obama administration
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