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Clinton Set to Name New Envoy to Afghanistan, Pakistan

VOA News February 15, 2011

U.S. officials say Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has chosen Marc Grossman, a retired diplomat, as the new Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Officials said Monday Clinton will officially name Grossman to the post later this week. The position has been vacant since the December death of veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke.

Grossman is a former ambassador to Turkey who also served as a high-ranking diplomat under former president George W. Bush. Grossman, who retired from the State Department in 2005 after a 30-year career, will face formidable challenges after replacing Mr. Holbrooke, one of the top US diplomatic troubleshooters of the post-war era.

Relations with Pakistan, which the United States considers a vital counterterrorism ally, have been damaged by a dispute over the fate of an American who shot dead two Pakistanis last month.

Washington insists Raymond Davis is a member of its embassy staff who is entitled to diplomatic immunity. But Pakistan’s government fears a popular backlash if he is released.

Clinton is scheduled to give a major speech on Afghanistan and Pakistan Friday in New York.

Meanwhile, Senator John Kerry is set to arrive in Pakistan Tuesday to meet with senior Pakistani officials. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad told VOA the meetings will begin Wednesday and will include talks about detained American diplomat Raymond Davis.

The embassy also said Kerry will "reaffirm U.S. support" for the relationship between the two countries.

Kerry is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and has traveled to Pakistan four times since taking that post in 2009.

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