REFILE-U.S. State Dept official to head U.N. security

Wed May 6, 2009 7:59pm BST

(Refiles to fix typo in headline)

* Starr replaces official who resigned after report

* Ban took nearly a year to find replacement

UNITED NATIONS, May 6 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday appointed long-serving U.S. diplomatic security official Gregory Starr as head of global security and safety at the United Nations.

Starr replaces Britain's David Veness, who resigned after a report on a 2007 car bombing that killed 17 U.N. staff in Algiers cited failures in his department. [ID:nN24385004]

As the new U.N. under-secretary-general for safety and security, Starr will oversee "the immediate need to tackle the heightened serious security risks facing the (United Nations) around the world," Ban's press office said.

Starr, 56, has been a security official at the State Department since 1980 and was involved in a program that built more than 60 secure U.S. embassies and consulates. He has been posted in Israel, Tunisia and elsewhere in Africa.

He is currently the department's director of the Diplomatic Security Service and deputy head of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

It took Ban almost a year to find a replacement for Veness, a former anti-terrorism chief at Britain's Scotland Yard police headquarters.

A number of Western diplomats have said Veness took the blame for lapses on the part of other U.N. officials and the Algerian government over the Algiers bombing. [ID:nN08533022]

Al Qaeda's North Africa wing claimed responsibility for the December 2007 bombing of U.N. offices in Algiers along with another attack on the same day. At least 41 people died in the twin attacks.

After the events in Algiers, U.N. management decided to tighten security at all U.N. sites, saying that an increasing number of militants and extremists no longer viewed the world body as a neutral organization. (Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Xavier Briand)




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