Thursday, April 10, 2008

A US/Afghan heroin connection?

US ambassador to UN to step down

US Ambassador to the Untied Nations Zalmay Khalilzad, 18 May, 2007
Mr Khalilzad scotched rumours he plans to run for the Afghan presidency

Zalmay Khalilzad is to step down as the US ambassador to the UN within months, he has said, while rebutting rumours he plans to run for the Afghan presidency. [BBC]

The Afghan-born diplomat made the announcement in a televised interview with Afghanistan's Ariana Network.

"I will resign from my official work in the next few months and start a private business," said Mr Khalilzad.

He became the ambassador to the UN in April 2007, having previously served as ambassador in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Kabul, he came to be known as "the viceroy", or the real president of Afghanistan, while as ambassador to Baghdad, he became one of the country's most powerful men.

No immediate plans

During his Ariana interview in New York, Mr Khalilzad scotched rumours that he planned to put himself in the running for Afghanistan's presidency.

"I have said earlier that I'm not a candidate for any position in Afghanistan, but I am at the service of the Afghan people," he said.

Mr Khalilzad was appointed to his role at the UN by President George W Bush, whom he served on the National Security Council from 2000-2002.

He has close ties to the Republican Party, having also worked for the Bush administration as a special presidential envoy to Afghanistan.

He was previously a counsellor to former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld.

A fluent Pashto and Dari speaker, Mr Khalilzad was born in 1951 and spent time studying in Lebanon before moving to the US with his family in the 1970s, and becoming a US citizen.

A US spokesman at the UN said Mr Khalilzad had "no immediate plans to resign".

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[my thoughts on the subject]

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