By Ray Fleming l JOHN R Bolton may eventually be confirmed as US Ambassador to the UN but by the time that happens his reputation and standing will have been seriously damaged. Late on Thursday, Republican managers in the US Senate were forced to concede that they would not get an affirmative vote for Mr Bolton for at least another ten days. When Mr Bolton's nomination by President Bush was considered by a sub-committee of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate, the doubts about his suitability as ambassador to the UN focussed on derogatory statements he had made about the UN and on his brusque manner. Now wider issues have emerged, particularly over the refusal of the Bush administration to make available to the Committee documents concerning Mr Bolton's part in an internal battle over the reliability of intelligence assessments on Syria. The Democrats say these documents are relevant to an assessment of Mr Bolton's judgement but the adminsistration claims they are too sensitive to make available for public use. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. intervened to say that providing information on the debate over Syria would have a “chilling effect” on future internal debates within the government. It is now 11 weeks since President Bush nominated Mr Bolton and the political battle that has been fought over him is the most intense in years over such an important appointment. Mr Bush and Dr Rice have each underlined their support for him and have dismissed allegations that his strong personality and outspokenness would not go down well at the UN. Mr Bush thinks that Bolton is the right kind of person to drive through the reforms to the UN that he believes to be necessary. The principal Republican opponent to Mr Bolton's appointment, Senator Voinovich, takes a different view: “When was the last time so many individuals emerged from the administration to send warning signals to the US Congress about an individual? Please Mr President, find a better candidate to send to the United Nations.”

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