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Thursday, August 5, 1999 Published at 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK

World: Americas

Holbrooke confirmed in UN post

Holbrooke (left) had to meet Slobodan Milosevic regularly

After a near 14-month delay, Richard Holbrooke has been confirmed as the new United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Richard Holbrooke was President Clinton's Balkans trouble-shooter when he served as assistant secretary of state. He is widely considered the architect of the Dayton accords, which in 1995 brought the war in Bosnia to an end.

BBC Washington Correspondent Paul Reynolds: "Seen as a future secretary of state"
The BBC's Washington Correspondent, Paul Reynolds, says Mr Holbrooke is expected to be a forceful UN ambassador. He is already known for his robust and combative style.

President Clinton had nominated Mr Holbrooke for the post in June 1998, but the nomination was held up by a federal ethics investigation.

In February Mr Holbrooke agreed to pay a fine of $5,000 to remove the hurdle of an allegation that he had broken lobbying laws - only for the Senate to hold up proceedings while it considered the nomination again.

The final vote took place after just a brief debate. The senators voted 81 - 16 to approve Mr Holbrooke in his new job.

Welcome and gratitude

[ image: With Secretary of State Albright, another former US ambassador at the UN]
With Secretary of State Albright, another former US ambassador at the UN
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in a statement that she was "extremely pleased" with the vote, adding: "I welcome him as a member of the national security team."

Mr Holbrooke himself expressed his deep gratitude and said that he looked forward "to working closely with Secretary Albright and other members of the President's foreign policy team to advance our vital national interests."

Mr Holbrooke, 58, was born in New York and is of German-Jewish descent. He was educated at Brown University, and is married to the writer, Kati Marton. <

State Department veteran

[ image: Quizzed by the Senate]
Quizzed by the Senate
His first assignment for the State Department was in Vietnam during the Indo-China wars. He later headed the State Department's European and Asian bureaux.

He has served as an ambassador to Germany, and an assistant secretary of state for European affairs. In that post, he went to Bosnia as part of a peace-seeking delegation.

Since Dayton he has been working in the private sector on issues in the Balkans, and part-time for the State Department mediating in the dispute between Greece and Turkey over the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

In March he returned to the Balkans, this time to try to persuade Yugoslavia's President Milosevic to withdraw his troops from Kosovo.

That he failed in this mission does not seem to have dented his political prospects.

BBC Washington correspondent Paul Reynolds says Mr Holbrooke is seen by many in Washington as a potential secretary of state if Vice-president Al Gore should succeed Bill Clinton in the Oval Office.

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