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US envoy in Afghanistan starts packing his bags

May 23, 2012 04:18 IST

Veteran US diplomat Ryan Crocker is leaving his post as ambassador to Afghanistan this summer due to health reason, the State Department has said.

"Today, Ambassador Ryan Crocker confirmed to the Afghan Government, US Mission Afghanistan, and the ISAF community that he intends to depart his post for health reasons in mid-summer, following the Kabul and Tokyo conferences," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday.

Crocker, 62, came out of retirement last July to take over the post after a request from President Obama. Crocker was widely known for his role as US ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009.

Responding to questions at her daily news conference Nuland said health reason has nothing to do with "heavy workload" in Kabul.

"But we simply wanted and he wanted to make it clear that this should not in any way be seen as a lessening of his personal commitment and our national commitment, obviously, to Afghanistan.

"If you got a chance to see the fuller statement that he put out to his embassy and the larger ISAF community, I think his heart will always be a little bit in Afghanistan. But obviously, he's not leaving yet; he's going to stay on the job through the Tokyo conference in July. And you know, as is our want, we will squeeze every ounce of value out of him," Nuland said.

No decision has been taken on his successor yet, she said. His deputy, James Cunningham, is an interim arrangement.

"Ambassador Crocker's tenure has been marked by enormous achievements:  the Bonn Conference, the conclusion of the Strategic Partnership Agreement, and the two Memoranda of Understanding on detentions and special operations, and the Chicago NATO Summit," she said.

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