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New US ambassador's appointment delayed

The appointment of a new US ambassador to New Zealand, to replace David Huebner who has already left the post, has been delayed in the US Senate.

Former professional baseballer and prominent Democratic Party fundraiser Mark Gilbert has been nominated by President Barack Obama as the new US ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.

But while the White House last October revealed Gilbert as their selection, his posting has been stalled by Republicans who have stalled the approval process to a halt in the Senate, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

On Monday evening, the White House confirmed to the newspaper that 57-year-old Gilbert's nomination was formally sent again to the Senate with a list of around 200 others.

Officially, he's nominated to be "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to New Zealand, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Independent State of Samoa''.

Huebner has already finished his posting and returns to the US this week.

In an outgoing blog published yesterday, he recalled his four years in the role: "As a result of the commitment, hard work, and generosity of many hundreds of colleagues and counterparts, bilateral relations are deeper, stronger, and warmer today than they have been in decades, and indeed perhaps since the crucible of World War II when values-based relationships were sorely tested and proved their power and worth. It has been a great honor, privilege, and pleasure to serve with those colleagues and counterparts."

Gilbert, a director at Barclays Wealth in Florida, is a former professional baseballer, who in 1985 played seven games for the Chicago White Sox, before a knee injury cut his career short.

Gilbert is a major Democratic donor in Florida, with the Washington Free Beacon reporting he has emerged as a top financial supporter of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and has also raised some US$500,000 for Obama.



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