By Julian Pecquet - 08/23/13 07:11 PM EDT
The State Department on Friday defended Ambassador Samantha Power's absence from the United Nations.
Power was on a pre-planned trip to Ireland this week when allegations of a chemical weapons attack in Syria first emerged, The Hill has learned.
The State Department kept Power's whereabouts a mystery all week, fueling criticism in conservative media. She returned to work on Friday.
The other Security Council ambassadors, and even Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, were also represented by their deputies during the latest crisis, as is regularly the case during August.
When the allegations emerged, an official with the U.S. Mission to the U.N. told The Hill Power called for immediate consultations by the Security Council. The mission's No. 2, Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, sent a letter to Ban that evening along with the French and British deputy ambassadors calling for U.N. experts to be given immediate access to the site of the latest alleged attack.
“At the time of these developments, Ambassador Power was out of the office on personal travel that had been planned long before her confirmation as U.N. Ambassador,” the source said. “She requested this last minute meeting because what is happening in Syria is an emergency and requires an urgent response. It cannot and should not wait until she or anyone is back in N.Y.”
The source said Power was also in contact with the White House and participated in National Security Council meetings convened by President Obama. She also made “multiple calls” to Ban.
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