Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing Statement by U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel on the Nomination of Ambassador Zalmay Kahlizad to be the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
March 15th, 2007 -
“Mr. Chairman, it is my privilege today to introduce Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for a third time to this Committee. In October 2003, I introduced Ambassador Khalilzad as the President's nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. In June 2005, I introduced him as the President's nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. Today, following his distinguished service in Kabul and Baghdad, Ambassador Khalilzad returns to this Committee as the President's nominee to be the next U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
It is not surprising that the President has chosen Ambassador Khalilzad to lead our efforts at the United Nations at this critical time. In recent years, he has filled two of the most difficult diplomatic posts in our nation's history. As Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan, Khalilzad served under conditions that could have easily overwhelmed even the most gifted diplomat. Instead, he has earned a reputation as an agile and credible mediator in a region complicated by tribal, religious, and sectarian divisions. His deep understanding of the Middle East has been a vital asset, and we are grateful for his service.
Though the challenges of Iraq today are daunting and its future still deeply uncertain, Ambassador Khalilzad’s tenure in Iraq was marked by important milestones. After arriving in Baghdad in June 2005, Ambassador Khalilzad led our efforts to help the fledgling Iraqi government move forward in the political reconciliation process. He was central in facilitating the tough compromises that led to the ratification of Iraq’s Constitution in October 2005 and a successful national election in December 2005. At the end of his tenure, Iraq’s Council of Ministers approved a national oil law that, if adopted by the Iraqi Council of Representatives, will play a key role for Iraq’s future. Ambassador Khalilzad’s accomplishments in Afghanistan were equally impressive. During his tenure, Afghanistan held its first national free and fair elections in the nation's history and established a new government. He led U.S. efforts to help establish Afghan security forces and oversaw U.S. reconstruction assistance, allowing the Afghan people hope for new economic opportunities.
Ambassador Khalilzad will now fill a critical role as Ambassador to the United Nations. As members of this Committee are aware, the United Nations has its limitations and is imperfect. Over the past year, some improvements, such as stronger internal oversight capacity and the establishment of a UN ethics office, have been made... but further reform is needed. Institutional reform – with the goal of making the UN more effective and credible – should be one of the top priorities of our new Ambassador. It will require building durable consensus among member states. This is difficult and takes time. But it will not be accomplished without strong, wise and respected U.S. leadership.
Ambassador Khalilzad will find a partner in this effort in the new Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who has already signaled his commitment to greater transparency, accountability, and effectiveness at the United Nations. The world needs an effective and engaged UN today as much as any time since its creation.
I want to also recognize Ambassador Khalilzad's son, Alexander. Alexander was an intern in my office a few years ago, and now attends Stanford Law School. Ambassador Khalilzad's wife, Cheryl Benard, and their other son, Maximilian, are unfortunately not able to join us today.
Mr. Chairman, I strongly endorse Ambassador Khalilzad's nomination to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and enthusiastically recommend him to this Committee.