If confirmed by the Senate, Danforth would replace John Negroponte, who has been chosen to become U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
A spokesman for Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said the panel would move quickly to consider and most likely approve Danforth’s nomination, according to Reuters.
The president made the announcement in a statement released during his three-day visit to Europe, where the U.N. role in post-occupation Iraq was a major topic, the Associated Press reported.
Danforth, 68, is a former attorney general of Missouri and a lawyer with a practice in St. Louis. He is heir to the Ralston-Purina fortune and an Episcopal minister.
Described as a political moderate, Danforth is best known during his 18 years in the Senate for leading the battle to confirm Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. He retired from the Senate four years later.
After his Senate stint, he served as special counsel in the Clinton administration appointed by then-Attorney General Janet Reno. He conducted a 14-month investigation into the deaths of 80 Branch Dividians in Waco, Texas, in 1993, eventually clearing the FBI of wrongdoing.
Since September 2001, Danforth has been peace envoy to Sudan, a country wracked by civil war for 21 years. The Sudanese government and the country’s southern rebels are preparing for a final phase of talks to end Africa’s longest running civil war.