New US ambassador to Iraq arrives in Baghdad
Baghdad: James Jeffrey, the new US ambassador to Iraq, arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday and presented his diplomatic credentials to the conflict-torn nation`s head of state, the US embassy said in a statement.
Jeffrey, a veteran diplomat with extensive experience of the Middle East, met President Jalal Talabani and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari at ceremonies in the Iraqi capital, it said.
"It is a great honour for me to return to Iraq," Jeffrey, accompanied by his wife Gudrun, was quoted as saying.
"I look forward to renewing old friendships, strengthening our ties with Iraqi leaders and deepening our civilian engagement for the long term throughout this historic land."
Jeffrey takes up his post less than two weeks before the US military is due to end its combat mission here, with the number of American troops expected to fall to around 50,000 by the end of August as part of a long-term drawdown.
On August 05, the US Senate unanimously confirmed Jeffrey`s appointment to replace outgoing ambassador Christopher Hill who retired after a 33-year career in the diplomatic service.
Hill left Baghdad last week after a 16-month stint latterly dominated by a political stalemate after deadlocked Parliamentary Elections on March 07 in which no clear winner emerged and from which no government has taken office.
Jeffrey`s career includes a previous stint in Baghdad -- as deputy chief of mission and then charge d`affaires from June 2004 to June 2005 -- unlike Hill, who was best known for his high-profile post as the Bush administration`s pointman on North Korea`s nuclear programme.
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