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Bush Nominates U.S. Ambassador To Iraq

19 April 2004 -- U.S. President George W. Bush announced today he is nominating John Negroponte, the United States' top diplomat at the United Nations, to be the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

At the United Nations, Negroponte played a key role in winning unanimous approval of a Security Council resolution that demanded Iraqi President Saddam Hussein comply with UN mandates to disarm.

"John Negroponte is a man of enormous experience and skill, therefore I'm comfortable in asking him to serve in this very difficult assignment. No doubt in my mind he can handle it, no doubt in my mind he will do a very good job, and there is no doubt in my mind that Iraq will be free and democratic and peaceful," Bush said.

Negroponte will become ambassador in Baghdad when the United States hands over political power to an interim Iraqi government by a 30 June deadline. The appointment needs to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

In Iraq today, U.S. troops shot to death two employees of the U.S.-funded television station Al-Iraqiyah and wounded a third in the central city of Samara, the station said. The U.S. military said it was investigating.

In another development, the U.S.-led coalition announced it was halting offensive operations in the city of Al-Fallujah under an agreement ending a two-week siege by U.S. Marines following the killing of four American contractors. The coalition said its troops would start joint patrols with Iraqi security forces following several days of talks with local leaders in the Sunni Muslim insurgent bastion.

In another development, Spanish Defense Minister Jose Bono said today that Spain has already begun the process of withdrawing troops from Iraq.