NEW YORK — A broadly beaming U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton presented his credentials yesterday to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, losing no time in getting started on his new job after a painful and extended confirmation process.
Even before yesterday’s brief ceremony, which included several moments of small talk about Mr. Annan’s recent shoulder surgery, Mr. Bolton had spent several hours at the U.S. Mission in New York getting acquainted with members of a severely depleted staff.
Television and still cameras recorded the Bolton-Annan meeting, at which tense body language belied a courteous verbal exchange. Mr. Annan’s face was carefully composed into a stiff smile while Mr. Bolton’s hand remained clenched in his suit pocket.
“I should give you this, I suppose,” Mr. Bolton said, handing over a large manila envelope containing a formal letter of introduction signed by President Bush.
Mr. Bolton, famous for his candor, was uncharacteristically silent as he entered and left the U.N. Secretariat, a building he once noted could be reduced by 10 stories without anyone noticing.
In an interview hours later, Mr. Annan said he was glad the new ambassador had arrived and urged him repeatedly to work well with others.
“We are in the middle of major reform of the United Nations and it’s a topic that has seized all the members of the organization, and I hope that he will join in these discussions and work with me and the other ambassadors to reform the United Nations,” Mr. Annan said in his 38th-floor offices.
“Obviously, being the permanent representative of the United States with the support of the president, he will have an important voice,” Mr. Annan said. “But as I have indicated, it will be an important voice among many and I trust that he will work with the others to help us achieve our goals.”
Mr. Bolton, a 56-year-old lawyer who most recently served as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, was nominated by Mr. Bush in March to succeed John C. Danforth, a former senator, at the U.S. Mission here.
That nomination was twice prevented from coming to a full vote on the Senate floor by Democrats who accused Mr. Bolton of cooking intelligence and abusing subordinates.
Deputy U.N. Chief of Mission Anne W. Patterson has been running the mission since Mr. Danforth left in January, but key positions at the U.S. Mission have remained vacant so that the new ambassador could choose his own top staff.
Political adviser Stuart Holliday left the mission this spring to join the Washington law firm of Quinn Gillespie & Associates. And Patrick Kennedy, a longtime expert in management and budget issues, had already been informally transferred to the newly created intelligence agency in Washington.
The vacancies coincided with a flurry of pressing issues at the U.N. Security Council — including crises in Lebanon, Sudan and the Middle East — and a major push for administrative and conceptual reforms of the U.N. system.
State Department staff in New York and Washington have scrambled to cover the absences, and Mrs. Patterson has raced through very long days.
Mr. Annan said relations between the organization and the U.S. Mission — host country, largest contributor and sometimes squeaky-wheel — did not suffer without an ambassador.