- Barack Obama - Iraq
AFP - Christopher Hill, a career diplomat who was Washington's top nuclear negotiator with North Korea, has been picked as the next US ambassador to Iraq, US media reports said Tuesday.
Hill, who headed the US delegation to the six-nation disarmament talks with Pyongyang, was tapped by US President Barack Obama to be America's top envoy to the country it invaded in March 2003, ABC News was the first to report.
The pick is unexpected according to The Washington Post newspaper which noted that Hill, although a "consummate deal-maker," does not speak Arabic or specialize in the region, unlike his predecessor Ryan Crocker.
Before dealing with North Korea disarmament in his position as ambassador to South Korea, and assistant US secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Hill's career had been focused on Europe.
He was US ambassador to Poland, ambassador to Macedonia, special envoy to Kosovo and a key player in negotiating the Dayton accords for a peace settlement for Bosnia in the 1990s, according to his official State Department biography.
As its top envoy to Iraq, Hill is set to head the new administration's approach to the war-torn country alongside Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell, a former US senator and Northern Ireland peacemaker.
Iraqi provincial elections Saturday were seen as a crucial test of the country's steadily improving security and political system, as Obama seeks a withdrawal from the country in order to shift more combat troops to Afghanistan.
Obama said on Sunday that Washington was in a position to place more responsibility in the hands of the Iraqis following the elections and a reduction in violence there nearly six years after the US-led invasion.
Obama put forward last year a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of US combat troops and said upon taking office on January 20 the United States would "begin to responsibly leave Iraq."