By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
April 22, 2009 - The Senate voted yesterday to confirm Christopher R. Hill as the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The 73-23 vote confirmed Hill to head up the largest U.S. embassy in the world, which was dedicated in January. Hill will replace Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, who served as the top U.S. envoy in Iraq from March 2007 until February.
In announcing his intention to nominate Hill for the Baghdad post and Army Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry to serve as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, President Barack Obama expressed confidence in their abilities.
"I am honored and grateful that these dedicated public servants have agreed to join my administration as we work to tackle the great challenges of our time," the president said in written statement. "These extraordinarily accomplished individuals have served their country with great distinction, and they have each agreed to take on tough assignments."
Hill currently is the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and has been instrumental in leading the U.S. delegation to the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. He also has served as ambassador to South Korea, Poland and Macedonia, and as a special envoy to Kosovo. Hill also has served on the National Security Council.
In Iraq, he will serve in the new embassy compound set on 104 acres along the banks of the Tigris River in central Baghdad. It includes 27 modern office, housing and support buildings in tones that blend with the desert landscape. Officials said the scale of the new complex reflects the importance of the U.S.-Iraqi bilateral relationship.
More than 1,200 U.S. diplomats, servicemembers and government officials and staff from 14 federal agencies work and live on the compound, embassy officials said. Their tasks and missions run the gamut: supporting local elections, helping to fight corruption, helping develop Iraq's energy and transportation sectors, strengthening the rule of law, providing security training and promoting educational and cultural exchange.
In addition, 240 servicemembers assigned to Multinational Force Iraq are based at the embassy.