A Democratic congressman this week used a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall to criticize President Obama for failing to nominate a U.S. ambassador to a key European human rights panel.
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings of Florida urged Mr. Obama to find time to fill the ambassadorship to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
"I'm disappointed that the administration has still not yet nominated an ambassador to one of the pre-eminent human rights organizations," said Mr. Hastings, co-chairman of the congressional version of the OSCE, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
"For a president who so strongly supports international engagement and reinvigorating multilateral institutions, I expected better."
Mr. Hastings added that he hopes Mr. Obama will nominate an ambassador to the 56-nation OSCE before the end of the year.
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, chairman of the congressional panel, called on the United States "to renew its commitment to human rights, not as a personal belief of any political leader or simply an administration policy but as a moral obligation of our country to uphold international law and universal principles."
The Maryland Democrat joined other panel members, including the rankingRepublican, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, for the commemoration of the fall of the Wall at the Newseum, which displays the largest section of the Wall outside of Germany.
Ambassadors Klaus Scharioth of Germany and Cosmin Vierita of Romania also attended the event, along with House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, who chaired the congressional commission in 1989 when Germany tore down the Berlin Wall.
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Rep. Smith speaks with witnesses after the May 4, 2010 hearing in the U.S. Capitol Building