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Bush Chooses Past U.N. Critic As U.S. Representative to U.N.

By Steven R. Weisman

The New York Times -- WASHINGTON

President Bush on Monday named John R. Bolton, a blunt-spoken conservative known for his sharp skepticism of the United Nations and international diplomacy, as the new American representative to the United Nations.

Administration officials said his appointment would strengthen efforts to hold the United Nations to effective standards. But the nomination brought expressions of concern from many diplomats speaking on the condition that they not be identified by name or country, many of whom noted that Bolton had been scathing in his criticism of the United Nations.

“He is a tough-minded diplomat, he has a strong record of success and he has a proven track record of effective multilateralism,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at the State Department in making the announcement. “Through history, some of our best ambassadors have been those with the strongest voices, ambassadors like Jeanne Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.”

Secretary-General Kofi Annan of the United Nations, informed of the appointment by Rice on Monday morning, said through a spokesman that he looked forward to working with Bolton.

Bolton, 57, is a lawyer who has worked in federal government, mostly in the State Department, for most of the past 25 years. For the past four, he has served as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs. His elevation would now put him in perhaps the most visible diplomatic job outside that of Rice.

As examples of Bolton’s record on diplomacy, Rice cited the Treaty of Moscow, which reduces nuclear warheads while permitting an anti-missile system; nuclear negotiations with Libya; and the Proliferation Security Initiative, in which the United States and its allies try to interdict the shipment of dangerous arms.

The nomination brought strong praise from many Republicans and conservatives. “He’s been our man at the State Department,” said David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union.