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Inside Politics

U.N. Ambassador John Danforth resigns

From Richard Roth and Liz Neisloss

John Danforth, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will leave the post on the day President Bush is inaugurated for a second term.
United Nations
John Danforth

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- John Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will leave his post in January after less than seven months on the job.

In a letter of resignation sent to President Bush on November 22, Danforth said he wanted to return home to St. Louis to spend more time with his wife. Sally Danforth has recently had health problems. (Text of resignation letter)

"Forty-seven years ago, I married the girl of my dreams, and, at this point in my life, what is more important to me is to spend more time with her," Danforth said in his letter to Bush. "Because you know Sally, you know my reason for going home."

Danforth, 68, said he plans to leave the United Nations on January 20, the day Bush will be inaugurated for a second term. He told Bush he would still be available for short-term assignments.

A former U.S. senator from Missouri, Danforth was sworn in as America's U.N. ambassador in July, replacing John Negroponte, who became the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Danforth had been mentioned as a possible choice to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, but Bush opted to instead appoint national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

In 2001, Bush appointed Danforth as his envoy to help mediate between warring factions in Sudan. Last month, with Danforth holding the presidency of the U.N. Security Council, members traveled from New York to Nairobi, Kenya, for a special session on the Sudan crisis.

The U.S. ambassador has been pressing U.N. members to take a stronger stand against human rights abuses in the African country.

Germany's U.N. ambassador, Gunter Pleuger, praised Danforth.

"Although John Danforth has been with us only for a very short time," Pleuger said, "we really liked him as a very open and accessible colleague and we are very sorry to see him go."

Danforth, a Republican, served three terms in the Senate before retiring in 1994 and returning to his law practice. He is also an ordained Episcopal priest, and he presided at the state funeral for former President Ronald Reagan in June, shortly after being nominated to the U.N. post.

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