Entries in U.S. Ambassador (5)


US Ambassador to Libya Killed in Consulate Attack in Benghazi

MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images(BENGHAZI, Libya) -- Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, died on Tuesday when Libyan militants stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Stevens, 52, was killed as 20 gun-wielding attackers stormed the U.S. consulate, angry about an American-made film that depicts Prophet Mohammad as a fraud and womanizer. The attackers fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at the consulate, Libya's Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif said at a news conference in Benghazi.

Nearly a dozen Americans were inside the consulate at the time, guarded only by Libyan security. For nearly 20 minutes, the Libyan guards exchanged fire with the attackers, who hurled a firebomb inside.

Stevens was killed by injuries he sustained during the attack, according to a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wednesday, which also identified Foreign Service Information Management Officer and Air Force veteran Sean Smith as among those killed during the attack. Two more Americans were killed although their identities have not been released pending notification of their families.

"I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens," President Obama said in a statement Wednesday. "Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives."

"I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants," the statement continued.

Stevens, who was a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and served two tours of duty in Libya, was nominated by President Obama to be the ambassador to Libya early this year.  His term of appointment began on May 22, and he was in Libya during the revolution, serving as the Amercan representavie to the transitional national council.

The U.S. is now evacuating all Americans working with the State Department from Benghazi.  The U.S. is also bracing for more attacks in the Middle East, and considers this an extremely dangerous situation in the region right now.

Anger over the movie that some believe insulted the Prophet Mohammad also provoked protests in Cairo Tuesday, where demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy, took down the American flag and replaced it with a black flag.

A senior U.S. official told ABC News the State Department is on alert throughout the region and fear there could be more attacks to come.

The group that attacked the consulate is called Ansar al Sharia, according to Libyan sources.  The group has claimed responsibility for the attack but did not mention the movie as motivation.

"I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement released Tuesday night.  "As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed.  We are heartbroken by this terrible loss.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack."

Libyan President Mohammed Yussef Magariaf promised to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in the country, condemned the assault on the embassy and pledged his government's full cooperation, Clinton said.

According to The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal and Egyptian media, the movie is called Mohammed, Prophet of the Muslims and has been promoted by Terry Jones, the controversial Florida preacher whose Koran burning in March 2010 led to the deadly violence in Afghanistan.

Jones said Tuesday in a statement that the movie was actually titled Innocence of Muslims and was intended not to attack Muslims, but to show the "destructive ideology of Islam."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John McCain Hesitant to Support Pick for New Ambassador to Iraq

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain could torpedo the Obama's administration pick to replace outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James F. Jeffrey.

The Arizona Republican has expressed reservations with Jeffrey's possible successor, Brett McGurk, because he failed to secure a small deployment of American forces in Iraq following the military withdrawal in late 2011.

McGurk will testify about his nomination before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday on which McCain is the GOP's ranking member.

Other lawmakers, including McCain's fellow Republicans, believe the career diplomat is qualified to serve as the country's top envoy to Iraq, having worked in both the George W. Bush White House and the current administration.

However, McCain told reporters Tuesday that McGurk should have done more during the final negotiations of the Status of Forces Agreement to ensure some American soldiers were left behind.

Mostly, McCain puts the ultimate blame on President Obama for "the unraveling of Iraq that's taking place."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ecuador Expells US Ambassador over WikiLeaks Cable

RODRIGO BUENDIA/ AFP (WASHINGTON) -- Ecuador asked U.S. ambassador Heather Hodges to leave the country as soon as possible on Tuesday, making her the most recent diplomat to become involved in a diplomatic dispute generated by a WikiLeaks disclosure.

Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Hodges was expelled for accusing national police commander Jaime Hurtado Vaco of corruption and for speculating that President Rafael Correa was well aware of the commander's wrongdoings.

The grounds from expulsion evolved on Monday when the Madrid newspaper El Pais published a WikiLeaks cable dated July 10, 2009. The cable quoted Hodges as saying Vaco used his position as commander "to extort cash and property, misappropriate public funds, facilitate human trafficking, and obstruct the investigation and prosecution of corrupt colleagues."

The U.S. State Department has called the expulsion "unjustified." There is no word on how else the department plans to act.

The WikiLeaks website began releasing confidential U.S. diplomatic cables in November resulting in a string of diplomatic turmoil for U.S. ambassadors. Since January, ambassadors in Libya and Mexico were asked to leave and a former ambassador to Turkey was threatened with a lawsuit from the Turkish prime minister.

Copyright 2011 ABC Radio News


Human Rights, Anti-Genocide Groups Protest President's Nominated Ambassador to Kenya

Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a rare move, some human rights and anti-genocide groups are writing to senators urging them to reject President Obama’s nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Air Force General Scott Gration (Ret.), accusing him of having done a poor job as President Obama’s special envoy to Sudan.

“As special envoy to Sudan, General Gration has made ongoing errors of judgment, has spoken inaccurately about a range of issues and has alienated many parties in Sudan,” says the letter from human rights and anti-genocide groups. “General Gration’s lack of experience and failures in diplomacy make him unqualified to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Kenya.”

Gration aroused the ire of some human rights groups by pursuing a strategy of engaging with the government of Sudan; the White House has always expressed support for Gration.

“The fact that the President has nominated Gration as his Ambassador to Kenya shows his confidence in General Gration’s work," said White House National Security Staff spokesman Tommy Vietor. "As Special Envoy, General Gration was tireless in his work on Sudan -- including on the successful referendum on southern secession brought about in no small part because of his efforts.”

The groups cite as evidence of Gration’s errors from a statement he made in 2010 saying that the Sudan national elections would be “as free and fair as possible,” despite evidence of fraud, their view that he downplayed “dangerous humanitarian conditions and grossly inadequate levels of aid in Darfur,” accusations that he took positions “favorable to the regime in Khartoum that were sometimes at odds with the established policy of the Obama Administration on Sudan,” and other matters.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ambassador Susan Rice on Libya: US Considering No-Fly Zone

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. said Tuesday morning that the U.S. will "keep the pressure" on Col. Moammar Gadhafi, but the Obama Administration is not yet ready to outline how it's going to step up the military pressure on his regime.

"We are in discussions with our allies and NATO and elsewhere about planning for all sorts of military contingencies including a no-fly zone and should we decide that it is necessary to take the step we will proceed with the proper international steps that go with that including consultations at the United Nations," Susan Rice told ABC News.

Rice also said the administration is not prepared yet to cut all diplomatic ties with the Libyan regime and formally recognize the provisional government of the opposition.

"We have put in place a global arms embargo preventing [Gadhafi] from resupplying.  And so we will keep the pressure on.  With respect to the opposition we are in a dialogue with all aspects of Libyan society, civil society, leaders who oppose the regime," she said.  "But to be candid, there has not yet coalesced a clear cut unified opposition.  So it is premature at this stage to talk about recognizing or providing any material support to such an opposition."

Rice called the Libyan dictator "frankly, crazy" for his behavior, such as denying there were protests against him to ABC's Christiane Amanpour and laughing when asked if he would step down.

The crisis in Libya has also affected the price at the pump here in the U.S.  Gas rose 19 cents in one week -- the second highest jump in more than 20 years.

The ambassador suggested that the U.S. is working behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia and other oil producing states to keep the crude flowing and hold gas prices down.

"We obviously would like to see production at a level that keeps prices steady, and we are obviously working with our partners to ensure that that’s the case," Rice said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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