Richard Olson to step into Munter’s shoes

James Cunningham also named as ambassador to Afghanistan.

Huma Imtiaz July 19, 2012

WASHINGTION: US President Barack Obama on Wednesday chose a veteran diplomat to replace Cameron Munter as Ambassador to Pakistan, ending months of speculation and guessing game.

The nomination of Richard Olson comes at a delicate time for the US relations with Pakistan.

The president also picked James Cunningham, the No 2 at the US embassy in Kabul, to be the new ambassador to Afghanistan, according to the White House.

Munter is stepping down from his post after completing his two-year tumultuous tenure in Islamabad. Olson was holding a senior economic development post at the US embassy in Kabul before his new assignment.

The White House, in a statement on Wednesday, said it had sent the nominations of Richard Olson and James Cunningham to the Senate for approval. Both nominees require Senate confirmation.

Cunningham has served as US ambassador to Israel from 2008 to 2011. From 2005 to 2008, he was US consul general in Hong Kong. He was posted in earlier assignments to the United Nations, Rome and Nato.

Olson served as US ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2008 to 2011 and at the US mission to Nato in Brussels, among other assignments. Ambassador Olson, a career foreign service officer, has also been posted in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Frustrated with Pentagon

Munter was believed to have been in favour of a US apology over the 2010 deadly Nato air strikes and an unannounced cessation of drone strikes for the time being.

According to AFP, people close to Ambassador Munter said he has been frustrated that the CIA and Pentagon were calling the shots for the United States in Pakistan, with his job effectively to contain the fallout.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2012.

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