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Obama establishes Af-Pak strategic partnership office

19 January, 2014

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has ordered establishment of a temporary organisation to be known as Afghanistan and Pakistan Strategic Partnership Office (APSPO) that would help promote further security and stabilisation and transitioning to a normalised US diplomatic presence in the two countries.

The organisation has been established within the US State Department and would coordinate the final drawdown of the Department of State's civilian field operations and staff in Afghanistan.

The creation of the organisation under President Obama's executive order comes as the US and its NATO allies move to a major transition in Afghanistan with the conclusion of combat operations and drawdown of most of their troops by the end of the current year. The APSPO shall be headed by a director appointed by the US secretary of state. The temporary organisation shall be based in Washington, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The White House executive order states that the "purposes of the APSPO shall be to perform the specific project of supporting executive departments and agencies in facilitating a strategic partnership between the US government and the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, promoting further security and stabilisation, and transitioning to a normalised diplomatic presence in both countries".

The APSPO shall "support agencies in transitioning to a strategic partnership with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the economic, diplomatic, cultural, technology, and security fields, particularly in the areas of programme management, rule of law, and programme oversight". It will "coordinate the final drawdown of the Department of State's civilian field operations and staff in Afghanistan. The organisation will also coordinate and oversee the administration of certain State Department assistance funds".

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