“It is something that needs to stop, and that we are pressing and will continue to press until it does stop,” Robert S. Beecroft told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing.
Sen. John F. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and committee chairman, noted the close relationship between Iraq and Iran, and said it is “completely inappropriate” for the U.S. to continue funding democracy in a country that works against its interests.
He also addressed concerns expressed by committee members about religious freedom, al Qaeda’s influence, border leakage with Syria and other issues.
“A large majority of Iraqis … remain committed to resolving their differences politically instead of through violence,” he said. “Iraq’s oil production recently passed 3 million barrels per day, a level it had not achieved in more than three decades. U.S. commercial interests are returning to Iraq, and Iraqi students are studying in the United States in increasing numbers.
President Obama nominated Mr. Beecroft after nominee Brett McGurk withdrew his name in June after his steamy emails to a Wall Street Journal reporter were made public.
Committee members emphasized the necessity of security at the Baghdad embassy in light of last week’s attacks at the consulate in Libya, and Mr. Kerry noted that the U.S. mission in Iraq is the largest in the world.
In his opening statement, Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the committee’s ranking Republican, offered a tribute to J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador who was killed in Libya last week.
Mr. Lugar said Mr. Stevens’ service “underscored the importance of our diplomacy and the difference that an ambassador can make.”