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New US Ambassador to UN Starts First Day

The new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations spent his first day on the job in a place he's previously called irrelevant. John Bolton received a cautious welcome Tuesday from the UN Secretary General.

The controversial, blunt-speaking diplomat who will serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations presented his credentials to the Secretary General Tuesday.

John Bolton was previously an arms control expert for the U.S. State Department. Democratic Party leaders had accused him of manipulating intelligence before the Iraq war, and having an abrasive management style. He has also publicly and harshly criticized the UN.

The Bush administration says a tough approach is needed to overhaul the United Nations bureaucracy to make it more accountable. But Secretary General Kofi Annan suggests willingness to compromise is also needed. "It is all right for one ambassador to come and push, but an ambassador always has to remember that there are 190 others who will have to be convinced, or the vast majority of them, for action to take place."

Nominated five months ago, Mr. Bolton twice failed to win confirmation in the U.S. Senate. But President Bush bypassed lawmakers Monday, using what's called a recess appointment: When Congress left for a summer break, the president had the authority to fill the vacancy on a temporary basis.

Democratic Party leaders say the lack of Congressional approval further undermines Mr. Bolton's mission.

Democratic Party Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said, "I agree there's terrible problems at the UN. We need to get rid of the corruption. We need to get rid of the mismanagement. But you don't do it by sending somebody up there who, basically, doesn't believe we should have a UN and who already has such a bad reputation with other diplomats that I don't think he's going to be able to get anywhere."

Mr. Bolton will serve until January 2007, when the next Congress convenes, unless this Congress confirms his appointment.