Cabinet Shuffle: Richardson, Holbrooke Nominated To New Posts
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 18) -- President Bill Clinton announced Thursday some familiar faces in his administration will move to new jobs.
At a Rose Garden ceremony, Clinton presented his nomination of United Nations Ambassador Bill Richardson as the new secretary of energy. Clinton's nominee to fill Richardson's position at the U.N. is Richard Holbrooke, the architect of the Bosnia peace accords.
Praising Richardson's work on many international negotiating challenges from The Congo to Iraq, Clinton explained, "If there is one word that comes to mind when I think of Bill Richardson, it really is energy."
Clinton also said Richardson's 14 years as a representative of Congress from New Mexico, home to a number of the Energy Department's major nuclear facilities, and his experience on the House Resources and Commerce committees, have prepared Richardson for his new post.
Accepting the nomination, Richardson, 50, pledged to focus on key issues such as research and development, environmental clean-up and nuclear security.
"The department's ability to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile will support your efforts, Mr. President, to secure a comprehensive test ban treaty, a treaty made all that more important by recent events," Richardson said referring to this spring's nuclear tests by India and Paksitan.
In welcoming Holbrooke, the former assistant secretary of state for European affairs, back to his administration, Clinton thanked the
Nobel Peace Prize nominee for his work on the Dayton peace accords that ended Bosnia's civil war. Clinton also cited Holbrooke's ongoing efforts to resolve the disputes between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus and to find a diplomatic resolution to the violence in Kosovo.
"Ambassador Holbrooke understands, as do all the members of our national security team, the important role the United Nations can play in supporting our goals around the word; pursuing peace and security; promoting human rights; fighting drugs and crime; helping people lift themselves from poverty to dignity and prosperity," Clinton said.
Holbrooke, 57, became visibly emotional when he took the podium and described his first visit to the U.N. with his parents as an 8-year-old boy.
"These buildings, my father said, would become the most important in the world, they would prevent future wars. My father did not see how his dream for the U.N. dissolved in the face of the harsh realities of the Cold War and the inadequacies of the U.N. system itself. But I never forgot the initial visit and my father's noble, if openly idealistic dreams," Holbrooke said, choking back tears and receiving a reassuring pat on the shoulder from the president.
"Despite its many problems and failures, I still believe in the importance and even the necessity of the United Nations," Holbrooke said.
Holbrooke left the State Department in 1996 to take a job in international banking. But he has been repeatedly pressed into service by the Clinton Administration as a special envoy to various international hot spots.
Richardson's appointment as Energy secretary had been rumored for several weeks, and he had reportedly been considering whether the post might help him with any future political races in his home state.
Current Energy Secretary Federico Peña is stepping down to return to the private sector.
Both nominations require Senate confirmation.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer contributed to this report.