U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed veteran Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura to be his special envoy to Afghanistan. De Mistura will replace Kai Eide, who is stepping down in March.
Mr. Ban made the announcement on the eve of an international conference on Afghanistan that will take place Thursday in London.
"I intend to appoint Mr. Staffan de Mistura to succeed Mr. Eide as my Special Representative," said Ban Ki-moon. "I am grateful for the support from all important stakeholders to this appointment, that will help UNAMA extend its role in coordinating the international civilian effort in Afghanistan."
UNAMA is the U.N. mission in Afghanistan.
Mr. Ban said de Mistura brings an "enormous wealth of experience and skill" to his new job. He speakes seven languages and has served the United Nations for more than 30 years in such trouble spots as Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia and the Balkans.
Kai Eide's two-year tenure was marred by criticism from his former deputy, American Peter Galbraith, that he failed to take action to prevent what international observers said was widespread fraud during last August's presidential election.
But the secretary-general has stood steadfastly behind him and again thanked him for his leadership of the U.N. mission during a difficult period. In addition to the contested election, terrorists attacked a U.N. guest house in Kabul last October killing five employees.
The U.N. chief is traveling to London for Thursday's international conference on Afghanistan. He spoke about his expectations for the meeting.
"In London we expect the international community to give a clearer picture to the Afghan government, how and in what way, and how much, we can support President Karzai in his efforts to bring peace and stability and economic development," he said.
He said at the same time, the international community expects Mr. Karzai's new government will come out with a strong compact in the areas of good governance, addressing corruption, enhancing human rights and other crucial areas.