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Negroponte coversup death squads in honduras { April 14 2004 }

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April 14, 2004
Negroponte Is Expected to Be Picked for Iraq Post

WASHINGTON, April 13 President Bush is expected to select John D. Negroponte, a veteran diplomat and current United States representative to the United Nations, as ambassador to Iraq once sovereignty is given over to a government in Baghdad on June 30, administration officials said Tuesday.

Mr. Negroponte's career dates to the war in Vietnam in the 1960's and the turmoil of Central America in the 1980's.

Confirmed more easily than expected as ambassador to the United Nations shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he had been questioned by some for his performance on human rights issues as ambassador in Honduras during the civil war in neighboring Nicaragua.

Now he is nominated for another crucial position in another chaotic place. After the transfer in Iraq, the American occupation authority is to be transformed into the United States' largest embassy, employing at least 3,000 people.

The ambassador will report to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

Under the administration's plans, the American military which is expected to remain in Iraq after the transfer of power will remain under the command of the Defense Department, not the ambassador. Iraqi forces are to report to American military commanders.

The likely choice of Mr. Negroponte is being seen as a victory for Mr. Powell, who argued that the job required a candidate with diplomatic experience, bureacratic skills and experience dealing with military commanders, as well as someone who could quickly be confirmed, administration officials said.

Other possible names that officials said had been under consideration by Mr. Bush, including Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, and Robert Blackwill, director of Iraq policy at the White House, were said by administration officials to be less likely to win quick confirmation.

But the selection of Mr. Negroponte fills in only one of many blanks in the administration's Iraq policies. Administration officials concede that they are not even close to an agreement on what sort of government is to take power on June 30.

The process of choosing a government has been overseen by L. Paul Bremer III, administrator of the American occupation in Iraq since the end of major combat last spring.

For the past two weeks, Mr. Blackwill has been in Iraq working with Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations envoy, to try to cobble together an agreement on a future Iraqi government, with no evident success.

But now, the administration's priority has shifted to calming the violence so that work can resume on enlisting Shiite and Sunni support some of it from elements that have carried out violence in the last week for a political solution to the chaos.

Mr. Negroponte is widely regarded as a cool-headed professional who has been involved in sensitive matters in the past. He is experienced in dealing with European and Arab diplomats and top officials at the United Nations, whose support is considered crucial for the stability of Iraq.

In the early 1980's, when he was ambassador to Honduras, it became a springboard and a refuge for the Nicaraguan contras as they fought the leftist Sandinista government.

When he was questioned as the nominee to become United Nations ambassador about whether he had deliberately turned a blind eye to human rights abuses in Honduras to advance the Reagan administration's policies, he denied it.

"I do not believe then, nor do I believe now, that these abuses were part of a deliberate government policy," he said. "To this day, I do not believe that death squads were operating in Honduras."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Cia trained death squads in honduras { April 20 2004 }
Honduras staging ground for nicaraguan contras { April 20 2004 }
Honduras troops go home after negroponte appointed to iraq { April 20 2004 }
Negroponte coversup death squads in honduras { April 14 2004 }

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