UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 3 -- John C. Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Friday that he withdrew his name from contention for any senior post in President Bush's second term for personal reasons, dismissing suggestions that he resigned only after learning that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice would be chosen instead of him as the next secretary of state.
Danforth, 68, had been mentioned as a possible successor to Colin L. Powell. The timing of Danforth's Nov. 22 resignation, six days after Rice's appointment was announced, fueled speculation that he was disappointed at having been passed over for the job.
Ambassador John C. Danforth: "I want to go home. It's just that simple."
_____Crisis in Sudan_____
Q&A: Darfur A brief explanation of the issues and current humanitarian situation in Western Sudan.
Photos: Continuing Crisis
Photos: Sudan's Rebels
U.S. Urges War Crimes Tribunal for Darfur Atrocities (The Washington Post, Jan 28, 2005)
Annan Urges Action on Darfur at U.N. Commemoration of Holocaust (The Washington Post, Jan 25, 2005)
Guns Stop 'Crying' In Southern Sudan (The Washington Post, Jan 24, 2005)
U.S., Europe Debate Venue for Darfur Trials (The Washington Post, Jan 21, 2005)
Sudan, Southern Rebels Sign Accord to End Decades of War (The Washington Post, Jan 10, 2005)
Danforth said Friday that he informed Bush's chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., to remove his name from consideration for any senior post on Nov. 5, seven days before Powell learned he would not be asked to serve a second term.
Danforth told Card in an e-mail that he wanted to delay a public announcement until December to avoid "losing leverage" during the U.S. presidency of the Security Council.
Danforth, who had served in 2001 as special envoy for peace in Sudan, had scheduled a rare Security Council meeting in Nairobi in November to press Sudan's Islamic government and Christian-backed rebels in southern Sudan to sign a peace accord ending a 21-year war. The conclusion of such an agreement, which Danforth will continue to pursue before stepping down Jan. 20, would mark a major foreign policy achievement for the Bush administration and a personal triumph for Danforth.
"Did I want to sign up for a four-year stint at this point in my life?" Danforth said in his first public remarks since he announced his resignation. "The answer to that question is no.
"I want to go home. It's just that simple," he said. "What is most important to me is my wife and my home, and having more time with both."
The Bush administration has not settled on a replacement for Danforth. Administration officials said that R. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, is a candidate and is a personal favorite of Rice's. Burns, who served as U.S. ambassador to Greece and State Department spokesman during President Bill Clinton's first term, was Rice's deputy in President George H.W. Bush's National Security Council.
Speculation also centered on previous candidates for the job, including Richard S. Williamson, a Bush loyalist who served in a senior post at the United Nations, and Shirin R. Tahir-Kheli, a senior adviser to Rice at the NSC.
John R. Bolton, the undersecretary for arms control and international security, has been considered a candidate in the past. Bolton, who served as assistant secretary for international organization affairs under President Bush's father, has been a vocal critic of the United Nations.
President Bush said in a handwritten reply to Danforth that he might call on the former senator to carry out future missions. Bush said in the letter, which was quoted Friday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that Danforth has served "with class and dignity."
"While I understand your desire to spend quality time with Sally and the family, I will miss your skill and talent in NYC," Bush's note continued. "I will consider you available for special projects."
Speaking outside the Security Council, Danforth acknowledged that it was a challenge to function under the State Department's strict chain of command but that he believes the U.N. ambassador should not be "an independent foreign-policy maker."
" 'Frustration' is not exactly a word that applies to me," he said. "Am I used to this kind of operating? No. I mean, when I was in the U.S. Senate, I voted my conscience, my point of view and my positions on issues, what I thought."
Danforth said the United States remains committed to the United Nations despite contentious disputes over Iraq and the Middle East. Still, he said he was perplexed that the 191-member General Assembly did not adopt a tough European Union resolution condemning Sudan for failing to halt the mass killings of black African civilians in Darfur.
Staff writer Glenn Kessler in Washington contributed to this report.