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The Obama administration asked retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni to be U.S. ambassador to Iraq but abruptly withdrew the appointment without explanation, The Washington Times reported Wednesday.

Zinni, a former commander of Central Command, told The Washington Times on Tuesday that he had been offered the job by the White House national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, two weeks ago and that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed the offer on Jan. 26, according to the report.

Zinni told the Times that he became concerned because he heard nothing further from the State Department or White House. He said he called Jones on Monday night and was told that outgoing Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Christopher Hill was getting the job.

According to the report, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said no announcements about the position have been made but that "the president has enormous respect for Gen. Zinni and believes he would be on anybody’s short list for a number of critical national security roles."

Zinni indicated that he was not interested in other offers. "I’m not going to give up my day job" writing books and teaching at Cornell University, he told the Times.

Zinni was deputy commander in chief of Central Command from 1996-97 and commander from 1997-2000.


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