McCain joins call to speed confirmation of U.N. envoy

Negroponte has served well, GOP senator says

August 02, 2001|By Jay Hancock | Jay Hancock,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - Adding to Republican pressure on Senate Democrats to speed the confirmation of John D. Negroponte as ambassador to the United Nations, Sen. John McCain said yesterday that the vacancy in the post is "hamstringing American foreign policy."

McCain, an Arizona Republican and member of the Armed Services Committee, echoed comments from the White House and Foreign Relations Committee Republicans who have criticized Democrats for delaying confirmation.

"Ambassador Negroponte has served Democratic and Republican presidents with distinction over the course of his diplomatic career," McCain said. "In the spirit of bipartisanship and the proud tradition of American internationalism at the United Nations, I urge my colleagues to move quickly to allow this good man to serve our country once again."

Saying the lack of a U.N. ambassador may have contributed to Washington's ouster from the U.N. Human Rights Commission this year, McCain urged the Senate to hold hearings on Negroponte and confirm him quickly after Congress returns from its August break. The United Nations gathers Sept. 18.

Senate Democrats have expressed concerns about Negroponte's qualifications to be U.N. ambassador in light of his term as U.S. ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985.

A series of articles published in The Sun in 1995 documented murder, kidnapping and torture committed by the Honduran military during his tenure and Negroponte's role in playing down the abuses in reports to Washington.

Senate Democrats have requested hundreds of pages of classified documents related to Negroponte's posting in Honduras, saying the papers may cast light on his qualifications for the U.N. post. Democrats blame the holdup on Bush administration delays in furnishing documents.

Bush announced his choice of Negroponte on March 6 and formally submitted his name to the Senate on May 14.

Yesterday, the White House repeated pleas to accelerate consideration of Negroponte.

"There's a very important conference coming up at the United Nations in the third week of September, and it would look very odd to the rest of the world if the United States did not have an ambassador present," said presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer.

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