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Trump administration appointed acting special representative for Afghanistan-Pakistan

23 July, 2017

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WASHINGTON: The Trump administration has appointed an acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, redressing speculations that it was abolishing the office established during former president Barack Obama’s first term.

The special representative coordinates US policies for Pakistan and Afghanistan, working directly with the two governments and with Washington’s Nato allies. The new representative, Alice Wells, a career foreign service officer (FSO), is the acting assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs. In her new capacity, she is expected to integrate the operations of the two offices.

A post on the State Department’s official website said Ambassador Wells was a senior diplomat with over 28 years of experience. She was US Ambassador to Jordan and has also served in Islamabad, New Delhi, Moscow, Riyadh and Dushanbe. Ms Wells has also worked at the White House, and at various positions in the State Department.

“Under Ambassador Wells’ leadership, the department will continue to maintain focus and leadership on Afghanistan and Pakistan issues,” a State Department official said.

Speculations that the special representative’s office would be abolished first appeared in March when the Trump administration announced an unprecedented 28 per cent cut in the State Department’s budget. The speculation resurfaced when the administration allowed the previous acting representative, Laurel Miller, to leave on June 23.

But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson quietly appointed Ms Wells as the new acting representative on June 26 and the Voice of America radio reported that the “appointment came with little fanfare” at a time when there’s increasing attention on the expected closure of Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, as part of the planned downsizing and restructuring of the State Department.

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