- The Washington Times - Friday, June 4, 2004

ROME (AP) — President Bush said yesterday he has chosen former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Danforth, a Republican who is a popular figure among both Republicans and Democrats, would succeed the current ambassador, John D. Negroponte, who will become ambassador to Iraq.

Since 2001, Mr. Danforth has been Mr. Bush’s special envoy to war-torn Sudan, where he has tried to mediate a peace agreement. He served in the Senate for 18 years and was on Mr. Bush’s short list as a possible vice-presidential choice in 2000.

The president made the announcement in a statement released while he was in Rome on a three-day European trip, during which the United Nations’ potential role in Iraq is a major topic.

A lawyer with a practice in St. Louis, Mr. Danforth, 68, is a former attorney general of Missouri. An heir to the Ralston Purina fortune, he also is an Episcopal priest and a graduate of Princeton University and Yale University’s law school.

Mr. Bush nominated Mr. Negroponte in April to be the ambassador to Iraq’s interim government, which is to gain sovereignty on June 30.

Easy Senate confirmation of Mr. Danforth seems likely, given his background as a senator and as a troubleshooter.

He has been tapped before to tackle complex issues since his 1995 retirement from the Senate. During the Clinton years, he acted as special counsel appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno. He conducted a 14-month inquiry into the deaths in 1993 of about 80 Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. His investigation cleared the FBI of wrongdoing.

While in the Senate, he helped lead the confirmation battle for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, a former aide.

Mr. Danforth is a political moderate who is popular among conservatives for his pro-life stance. He once was quoted as saying he joined the Republican Party for “the same reason you sometimes choose which movie to see — the one with the shortest line.”

He is married and has five adult children.

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