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Bolton to leave as US ambassador to UN

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Dec 4 (Reuters) US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton announced today he would soon give up his job after being unable to satisfy Senate opponents concerned he would pursue a unilateral US foreign policy.

Bolton's attempt to hang on to his diplomatic post, already tenuous, became even more problematic after Democrats who had blocked his nomination won control of the Senate in November elections. Bolton was appointed on a temporary basis.

He had a history of angering diplomats and colleagues in his previous State Department job and could not gain sufficient support from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to stay on despite winning praise from some envoys at the United Nations.

Surprising some White House officials still searching for a way to keep him in his job, Bolton submitted a resignation letter to President George W Bush on Friday. Aides said Bush thought about it over the weekend before reluctantly accepting it.

''I am deeply disappointed that a handful of United States senators prevented Ambassador Bolton from receiving the up or down vote he deserved in the Senate,'' Bush said.

While there was much speculation in Washington that Bush might give Bolton another position that did not require Senate confirmation, Bolton's departure letter appeared to close the door on that option.

He is to leave the UN post when the current session of the US Congress ends, possibly at the end of the week.

Democrats take control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives when the new session begins in January.

''After careful consideration I have concluded that my service in your administration should end when the current recess appointment expires,'' Bolton wrote.

BULL LEAVING THE CHINA SHOP White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bolton's departure ''will disrupt our diplomacy at the United Nations, to a certain extent, until we find somebody in his stead.'' He had no word on when a new nominee might come.

Bush appointed Bolton largely because of a commitment to reform the world body. He is leaving at a time when US foreign policy is fraught with global challenges, from the Iraq war to the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran.

''The bull is leaving the china shop of multilateral politics. This is good news for the world -- and the USA,'' said Juergen Trittin, former environment minister and deputy head of the opposition Greens in the German parliament.

Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, was considered a possible replacement, as was the US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.

Another possibility, Iowa Republican Rep Jim Leach, who lost his re-election bid, said last week his opposition to the Iraq war made him an unlikely choice.

Bush bypassed the Senate in August 2005 by appointing Bolton to the position when the lawmakers were in recess, avoiding the confirmation process and angering senators concerned that Bolton had a temper and intimidated intelligence analysts to support his hawkish views while at the State Department.

Democrats were largely opposed to Bolton. But a key Republican opponent was Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who lost his re-election bid even while maintaining his distance from the White House by opposing Bolton.

''I have long believed that the go-it-alone philosophy that has driven this administration's approach to international relations has damaged our leadership position in the world,'' Chafee said in a statement.

He said Bolton did not demonstrate the kind of ''collaborative approach that I believe will be called for if we are to restore the United States' position as the strongest country in a peaceful world.'' Bush planned to meet Bolton in the Oval Office today afternoon.

Alejandro Wolff, the deputy US representative to the United Nations, is expected to be acting US ambassador to the UN until a successor is confirmed.

Reuters SRS VP0200

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