Missouri-born ambassador 'optimistic' on arrival in Haiti

Monday, August 24, 2009 | 8:31 p.m. CDT

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — New U.S. ambassador Kenneth Merten has arrived in Haiti promising that Washington will help the poor nation during "still difficult times."

Merten presented his credentials to President Rene Preval on Monday and said the U.S. will fulfill its commitments.

Haiti has been wracked by years of political upheaval, violence, hunger and natural disasters, but Merten says he feels optimistic, "because Haiti now has many of the elements to move into a more peaceful, democratic and prosperous future."

Merten, a native of St. Louis, has served two previous assignments in Haiti during a 22-year foreign service career. He was most recently a deputy executive secretary to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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