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Rice: 'Proven Record' Led to Choice of New Iraq Ambassador

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2005 – Citing his "proven record of building consensus and achieving results in very tough situations," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced today that Zalmay Khalilzad is President Bush's choice as the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

If confirmed by the Senate, Khalilzad would succeed Ambassador John D. Negroponte, who is awaiting Senate confirmation as director of national intelligence.

Khalilzad is both U.S. ambassador and special presidential envoy to Afghanistan.

"Zal helped lead America's efforts to help millions of Afghan refugees return to their country and rebuild their lives in freedom," Rice said. "He worked tirelessly to secure the rights of Afghan women who were brutalized and oppressed under the Taliban. And Zal helped lead our government's efforts to support the Afghan government as they managed their first free and open elections in their entire history. Zal has certainly been effective, and now he will turn to the unique situation in Iraq."

Rice noted that Khalilzad has also served as special assistant to the president and senior director at the National Security Council. In the latter capacity, she said, "he worked to define America's forward strategy for freedom in the broader Middle East and North Africa." Before the liberation of Iraq, she added, he also served as special envoy and ambassador-at-large for free Iraqis.

With Iraq's Transitional National Assembly beginning the work of drafting the country's new constitution, Rice said, Khalilzad will be a "valuable representative for the United States and a wise counselor to the new Iraqi government." But the political process is only a small part of the U.S.-Iraq relationship, she noted.

"Zal will also work with all institutions of our government and those of other nations to continue our efforts to help Iraq build the institutions of freedom," she said, "from training Iraqi security forces to training Iraqi teachers, from improving power plants to improving schools, from increasing access to health care to increasing the efficiency of Iraq's food delivery systems."

Khalilzad said he understands the way ahead in Iraq and what it will take to get there.

"If confirmed by the Senate as ambassador, I will work with all Iraqis, all sects, all ethnic groups, men and women, to accelerate success in Iraq," he said. "By success, we mean an Iraq that can stand on its own feet in terms of providing security for its people, controlling its borders, delivering basic services such as education and health care, and creating the framework for a prosperous private sector."

He emphasized that Iraqis will determine whether the effort succeeds.

"It is for the Iraqis to seize this historic moment by building an Iraq in which all Iraqis are vital and active participants and everyone's rights are respected," he said. "It will take time. It will not be easy. However, when the Iraqis succeed, they will become an example of a thriving democratic state and a prosperous society for the wider region. If confirmed, I'll make every effort to support and assist the Iraqi people in this historic project."

Rice reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to helping Iraq on its road to democracy.

"In all that lies ahead in Iraq, the Iraqi people can know that they will have a strong and committed partner in the United States of America," the secretary said. "We have been inspired by their courage, and we will stand with the people of Iraq because a free Iraq serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration to the world."

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad

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