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Munter decides to 'step down'

09 May, 2012

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WASHINGTON: The US ambassador to Islamabad, Cameron Munter, plans to step down this summer, and the Obama administration, hoping to improve dismal ties with Pakistan, is considering a senior official at its Kabul Embassy to replace him.

The White House is focusing on Richard Olson, who has orchestrated US development and economic activities in Afghanistan since June 2011, to succeed Munter when he departs in coming months, sources familiar with the discussions said. Olson would have to be formally proposed by the White House and confirmed by the Senate. The White House declined to comment on a personnel matter.

Munter, who was sworn in as the ambassador in October 2010, has served during a period of unprecedented turbulence and suspicion between the two countries, whose uneasy alliance since the September 11, 2001 attacks has centered around the fight against terrorists operating from Pakistan.

Today, many officials in Washington appear to have resigned themselves to what they call a "transactional" relationship, limited largely to a degree of cooperation on counter-terrorism and some US military and civilian assistance.

The expected nomination of Olson, does not appear to represent a change to US policy toward Pakistan, but it could enable a fresh start after a dark period.

End.

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