US envoy for Afghanistan, Pakistan steps down

Washington: James Dobbins has stepped down as US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.

Kerry said Dobbins’ deputy, Daniel Feldman, will succeed him, Xinhua reported.

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As the first special envoy for Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban in December 2001, Dobbins, a 72-year-old foreign service officer, took up his current post in May last year.

In a statement, Kerry praised Dobbins for playing “an outsized role” in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying his relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai “was invaluable, particularly at difficult moments”.

“Now Dan is charged him with the same mandate as his esteemed predecessors: to align, focus and implement policies and programs that support our national security interests in a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said, referring to the next Af-Pak special envoy Daniel Feldman.

Most of US and NATO combat troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of this year after fighting a 13-year-old war there. US President Barack Obama has announced his intention to leave some 9,800 American soldiers behind for training and counter-terrorism missions.