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Bush taps Danforth for U.N. ambassador post


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ROME, Italy (CNN) -- President Bush has tapped former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the White House announced Friday as the president traveled in Rome.

The three-term Republican senator is widely respected by his former colleagues, and is expected to be confirmed easily. Danforth, 67, would replace John Negroponte, who will become the U.S. ambassador to Iraq after the scheduled handover of sovereignty June 30.

Danforth's office in Missouri said the former senator had no immediate comment.

Most recently, Danforth served as Bush's special envoy to Sudan, helping craft last month's peace initiative in that nation's civil war.

Both Democrats and Republicans have turned to the ordained Episcopal minister over the years, counting on his even temperament and reputation for integrity to bridge partisan conflicts.

Danforth left the U.S. Senate in 1995 after serving three terms. He was then tapped by the Clinton administration to conduct an independent investigation of the fiery 1993 siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

His report exonerated the government and federal agents of any wrongdoing in the siege, but it did fault some members of the Justice Department for not revealing immediately to the public some details about that siege.

Danforth played a lead role in shepherding Clarence Thomas through his 1991 Senate confirmation hearings. Those hearings erupted into a sensational debate on sexual harassment in the workplace after Anita Hill accused Thomas of making inappropriate sexual comments when the two worked together.

Danforth's book on the Thomas nomination, "Resurrection: The Confirmation of Clarence Thomas," was published in 1994.

Danforth was also a key player in the Civil Rights Act of 1991, helping to move that legislation through Congress. After leaving the Senate, he returned to his hometown of St. Louis to practice law.

A former state auditor and state attorney general, Danforth is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale's law and divinity schools. He was admitted to both the bar and the clergy in 1963.

Danforth's family founded Ralston Purina, and one of his brothers was the longtime chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis.

CNN senior White House correspondent John King contributed to this report.



Reuters contributed to this report.

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