- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 8, 2005

The new State Department leadership under incoming Secretary Condoleezza Rice began to take shape yesterday with Miss Rice choosing long-time associates as her top three aides.

As President Bush formally nominated U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick as deputy secretary of state, officials said the department’s No. 3 job, undersecretary for political affairs, would go to Nicholas Burns.

Mr. Burns, a career diplomat who is currently the ambassador to NATO, served in the Clinton administration as spokesman for secretaries Warren Christopher and Madeleine K. Albright.

He forged a close relationship with Miss Rice while working for her when she was in charge of Soviet and East European affairs in the National Security Council (NSC) during the presidency of the elder George Bush.

Mr. Burns also gained prominence as ambassador to Greece, where anti-Americanism reached a peak during the 1999 Kosovo crisis.

Another top post, undersecretary for arms control and international security, would be offered to Robert Joseph, who was in charge of that portfolio under Miss Rice in the NSC.

Mr. Joseph would replace John Bolton, a high-profile conservative on outgoing Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s team, who plans to leave the State Department, and most likely government.

Although Mr. Bolton’s name had been circulated as a possible deputy to Miss Rice, he was never considered seriously, officials said.

Mr. Bolton was not available for comment yesterday. An aide said he had not campaigned for the job, as some at the State Department suggested, but made clear that he would have been happy to have it.

Mr. Bolton was in charge of Mr. Bush’s Proliferation Security Initiative, aimed at policing the trade of illicit arms and weapons of mass destruction.

Last year, during a visit to Seoul, he described life in North Korea as a “hellish nightmare,” to which the Stalinist state responded by calling him “human scum.”

Another senior official who plans to depart is Beth Jones, assistant secretary for European affairs.

“She has told staff that she would retire from the State Department after more than 34 years of service,” one official said.

Mr. Zoellick belonged to former Secretary of State James A. Baker III’s powerful inner circle in the administration of the elder George Bush.

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