Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appointed a top aide of former United States President Bill Clinton, temporarily sidelined as Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery by recent surgery, as deputy envoy to leave immediately for the Indian Ocean countries devastated by last December's disaster to assess the state of the region.
The new deputy envoy, Erskine Bowles, a 59-year-old businessman who was Mr. Clinton's Chief of Staff at the White House from 1996 to 1998 and lost a race last year for the US Senate, was named at the former president's suggestion and will leave today to assess how the global humanitarian community has responded to the unprecedented natural disaster.
He will also attend an Asian Development Bank conference Friday in Manila, Philippines. On his return Mr. Clinton will convene a meeting of UN agency heads in New York to discuss the status of tsunami recovery work, for which the world body has launched a $977-million flash appeal and in which it plays a key coordinating role.
Although named several weeks ago, Mr. Clinton was to have been formally appointed this month after his return from a visit to the region with former US President George H.W. Bush on a mission entrusted to them by President George W. Bush to lead a private fundraising effort in the US.
Mr. Clinton was released from hospital on Monday, four days after surgery to remove fluid and scar tissue that accumulated in his chest after his heart-bypass operation last year.