Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made his debut at United Nations headquarters on Monday as the world body's new special envoy for Haiti.  Mr. Clinton has a long-time interest in the Caribbean island nation.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he chose former President Clinton as his special envoy for Haiti because of the efforts Mr. Clinton made on behalf of the Haitian people during his presidency and through his foundation.  The former president was also chosen because of his success in mobilizing support for people in the aftermath of  the devastating tsunami in East Asia in 2004.

"No one is better placed for this mission," said Ban Ki-moon. "He knows the country.  He loves the people.  They love him.  This is the strong wish of the Haitian people and the Haitian government and myself as secretary-general."

Mr. Ban and Mr. Clinton made a joint visit to Haiti in March.  It was a prelude to a U.N. sponsored international donors conference in Washington that raised $353 million for Haiti's reconstruction.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and suffered further setbacks last year, after being devastated by a series of tropical storms and hurricanes.

Mr. Clinton said he hopes to help Haitians take control of their own destiny.

"I think that Haiti, not withstanding the total devastation wracked by the four storms last year, has the best chance to escape the darker aspects of its history in the 35 years I have been going there," said Bill Clinton.

Mr. Clinton said his priorities as envoy are to support the Haitian government's efforts to generate new jobs and the delivery of basic services as well as to develop better storm preparedness plans and encourage the private sector not only to invest in Haiti, but also to honor previous commitments to the island nation.