January 31, 2002 - Dayton Daily News: Hall offered post as envoy to U.N. agency

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Hall offered post as envoy to U.N. agency

Read and comment on this story from the Dayton Daily News on Thailand RPCV Tony Hall and the position he was offered and later accepted as U.S. ambassador to United Nations food and agriculture agencies in Rome at:

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Hall offered post as envoy to U.N. agency

Congressman would work on food relief

By Mei-Ling Hopgood Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON | U.S. Rep. Tony Hall, D-Dayton, is considering a job as the U.S. ambassador to United Nations food and agriculture agencies in Rome.

The Bush administration has offered Hall the job, which would require him to work closely with key U.N. food relief organizations, a Washington source confirmed.

Both Hall and a White House spokesman declined to comment on the possible appointment.

Hall, 60, a hunger-relief activist with 23 years in Congress, announced last week he is considering not running for re-election to take a humanitarian job with the Bush administration.

"I cannot disclose the details of the conversations Mr. Hall has had with the White House and I can give no information about specific jobs," Hall's spokesman Michael Gessel said Wednesday. "Nothing has been nailed down."

The ambassador works closely with three United Nations agencies: the Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Program.

The U.S. mission to the agencies - which the ambassador would head - "serves as a link between the Rome-based international organizations and the U.S. agencies which collaborate with them. In Rome, U.S. government bodies, primarily the departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce and Treasury, and the Agency for International Development, work to advance international efforts in the areas of emergency food aid, food quality and safety standards, agriculture, fisheries, forests, and rural development," the mission's Web site says.

Calls to the mission were unanswered Wednesday. Bush's nominee to the post would have to be confirmed by the Senate.

World Food Program spokeswoman Abby Spring said she knew nothing about Hall's candidacy to be an ambassador to the U.N. agencies, but acknowledged that the position has remained unfilled since former South Dakota Sen. George McGovern left in October, after serving for about three years.

Spring said the job is a "high-profile and key post in the struggle to prevent widespread hunger and to mobilize resources to feed the hungry."

The World Food Program fed more than 80 million people in 80 countries last year, and has played a key role in the getting food to the hungry in Afghanistan. The Food and Agriculture Organization has a $650 million budget and works to "increase global food security by raising agricultural output, living and nutrition standards, and reducing world hunger," according to the U.S. State Department. The International Fund for Agricultural Development provides loans for agricultural and rural development.

The United States is the largest contributor to at least two of the three agencies, the World Food Program and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Sources last year said Hall had discussed with the Bush administration a possible a nomination to head the World Food Program, but that nomination fell through. A report Wednesday in CongressDaily, a newsletter published by the National Journal, quoted unnamed U.N. sources about the possible new appointment and saying Hall did not have enough management experience for the World Food Program job.

Gessel said Hall was still on unclear on why discussions ended on the World Food Program post.

"We don't know all the details, but what Congressman Hall is saying is that it was not the right fit," Gessel said.

As a congressman, Hall has become known as a leader in the worldwide fight against hunger.

He caught national attention in April 1993 with a three-week fast to protest elimination of the House's Select Committee on Hunger, and he went on to help found the Congressional Hunger Center, a nonprofit anti-hunger leadership training organization. Hall has made several humanitarian trips to countries struggling with starvation. Members of the South Korean parliament nominated him for a Nobel prize for his humanitarian work in North Korea.

Hall has said he would make a decision on his future in the next couple weeks. Feb. 21 is the filing deadline to run for re-election.

At least two Democrats have expressed an interesting in succeeding Hall, including his chief of staff, Rick Carne, and Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck Jr.

Interested Republicans include former Dayton Mayor Mike Turner, who has begun campaigning; Centerville physician David Westbrock, and Roy Brown, the head Brown Publishing Co. newspaper chain and the son and grandson of U.S. congressmen.

The primary election is May 7.

o Contact Mei-Ling Hopgood at (202) 887-8328 or mhopgood@coxnews.com

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