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Field of Candidates Narrows for UN 'Super Envoy' to Afghanistan

Veteran British diplomat Paddy Ashdown has withdrawn his name from consideration as the new United Nations envoy to Afghanistan.

In a statement Sunday, Ashdown said the job can be done effectively only with the clear support of the Afghan government, and he does not believe such necessary support exists.

Afghan officials have indicated they favor British NATO Commander General John McColl for the post, which is expected to coordinate U.N., NATO and European Union efforts in the country.

Ashdown held a similar post as international administrator in Bosnia, and he had sweeping powers to fire high-ranking officials and to impose and annul laws. The envoy position in Afghanistan is not expected to be as powerful.

Meanwhile, police in southern Afghanistan are searching for kidnappers who abducted an American aid worker Saturday.

Sidney Misal, a 49-year-old resident of Kandahar since 2002, was kidnapped along with her Afghan driver on her way to work.

Misal is a fluent Pashtu speaker and an employee of the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation, a non-governmental organization focused on improving agriculture and development. She also taught in Kandahar schools.

So far no group has claimed responsibility for her kidnapping.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.