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Senate confirms Samantha Power as new U.N. ambassador

Samantha Power, a former White House aide and Harvard professor, testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing
Samantha Power, a former White House aide and Harvard professor, testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Human rights advocate Samantha Power easily won Senate confirmation as President Barack Obama's next ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday.

The Senate voted 87-10 in favor of Power, a former White House national security staffer and former journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for her book "A Problem from Hell," a study of U.S. failure to prevent genocide.

Power, who was backed by all of Obama's fellow Democrats and many Republicans, had been expected to easily win the Senate's approval. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly approved her nomination last month. The 10 "no" votes on Thursday were all from Republicans.

Power replaces Susan Rice, the subject of fierce criticism from Republicans for her role in the Obama administration's communications about attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

Obama named Rice in June as his national security adviser, a position that is not subject to Senate confirmation.

"As a long-time champion of human rights and dignity, she will be a fierce advocate for universal rights, fundamental freedoms and U.S. national interests," Obama said in a statement.

Power, 42, had faced some pointed questioning during her confirmation hearing over statements in interviews including seeming to suggest in 2002 that the U.S. Army might be needed to police the Middle East conflict if either Israel or the Palestinians were to move toward genocide.

Power has disassociated herself many times from that comment.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Bill Trott)

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