Richard Olson will be new US special envoy for Pak-Afghan region

October 16, 2015

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Richard Olson has served as US Ambassador to Pakistan for the last three years. —AFP/File
Richard Olson has served as US Ambassador to Pakistan for the last three years. —AFP/File

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration has appointed outgoing US ambassador to Pakistan as the new US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP).

He succeeds Dan Feldman who concluded his tenure on Sept 18 this year.

“Ambassador Olson will assume his responsibilities as SRAP on Nov 17, after concluding his service as the US Ambassador to Pakistan,” the US State Department announced in a press release.

Like his predecessors, Ambassador Olson will be responsible for developing and implementing policies and programmes that support US national security interests in promoting stability and increasing prosperity in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US State Department said.

Olson is the first US ambassador to Pakistan who has been appointed to this post and brings extraordinary experience in the region, the department's press release said.

He has been serving as US Ambassador to Pakistan for the last three years. Before Islamabad, Olson served as the Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs at the US Embassy in Kabul from 2011 to 2012, overseeing all US non-military assistance programmes and support for the Afghan government.

He also served as US Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2008 to 2011.

Olson is a member of the Senior Foreign Service, and has served at the US Department of State since 1982.

Olson was sent to Islamabad in 2012 after Ambassador Cameron Munter resigned from the office amidst tensions between Washington and Islamabad.

David Hale will be replacing Olson in Islamabad. Hale was nominated for the position by President Barack Obama. The US Senate has already confirmed Hale’s appointment, who was the US ambassador to Beirut before his transfer to Islamabad.

Olson’s appointment as SRAP comes at a time when the United States and its Afghan allies face resurgent militancy in Afghanistan. As SRAP, he is also expected to play a key role in the reconciliation process which seeks to end hostilities between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban.

Earlier on Thursday, US President Barack Obama also urged Pakistan to help restart the stalled process.