The US Senate this afternoon confirmed Christopher Hill as the new US ambassador to Iraq, setting aside Republican objections about his lack of experience in the Middle East.
The vote was 73-23 for Hill, a veteran diplomat who hails from Rhode Island and who was an envoy to North Korea during the Bush administration.
“It took much longer than it should have, but I am pleased that Chris Hill has finally been confirmed as President Obama’s ambassador to Iraq," Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. "He is one of the best diplomats we have in our country. Despite the significant security improvements, Iraq remains in a precarious state, and we need our Ambassador on the ground immediately. Ambassador Hill has personally assured me he will get to Baghdad as quickly as he can, and I look forward to working with him and supporting his efforts in any way I can.”
Some conservatives, notably Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, attacked Hill's record on North Korea, accusing him of ignoring human rights abuses and negotiating a flawed nuclear disarmament pact.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.