WASHINGTON - President Bush formally nominated veteran diplomat John D. Negroponte yesterday to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, moving to fill a four-month vacancy that some believe has hurt Washington's relations with the world body.
Bush announced Negroponte as his choice for the slot on March 12, but the formal nomination was delayed by what the State Department described as a complicated review of the severance package that Negroponte received from publisher McGraw-Hill and other financial matters.
Negroponte has been dogged by questions about whether he knew of and concealed human rights abuses in Honduras in the 1980s, when he was the ambassador there.
Congressional Democrats, some of whom have expressed concern over Negroponte's qualifications to be U.N. envoy, have requested numerous classified documents relating to his tenure in Honduras.
The Senate, which must approve Negroponte's nomination, has not yet scheduled a confirmation hearing. The White House hopes to have him confirmed by the end of the month.
Some diplomats say the lack of a U.N. ambassador may have contributed to Washington's embarrassing loss of seats this month on the U.N. Human Rights Commission and a U.N. drug policy panel.