Washington: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday named Richard Olson and James Cunningham to be the next ambassadors to Pakistan and Afghanistan, two highly sensitive positions vacated when envoys recently resigned, a White House statement said.
Olson is a former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Cunningham is the number two at the US embassy in Kabul, AFP reported.
The two men will need confirmation by the Senate. They would serve as the United States prepares to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan in 2014, a transition that profoundly impacts rocky relations with Pakistan.
“I am grateful that these talented and dedicated men and women have agreed to take on these important roles and devote their talents to serving the American people,” Obama said in a statement announcing several new postings.
“I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years,” said Obama, who is seeking a second four-year term in November 6 elections.
The outgoing US ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, resigned in May after a turbulent tenure in which US forces secretly killed Osama bin Laden near Pakistan’s main military academy, humiliating the powerful army.
Munter had been an advocate within the Obama administration for reconciliation with Pakistan. People close to him said he was frustrated that the CIA and Pentagon took the lead on Pakistan policy, with Munter’s job effectively to contain the fallout.
Just two weeks after Munter’s announcement, the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, also said he would leave his post early. The State Department said he decided to leave the stressful job for health reasons.