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Trump Taps Veteran Diplomat for Afghan Envoy


FILE - John Bass, U.S. ambassador to Turkey and formerly to Georgia, speaks during a news conference in Tbilisi, June 28, 2012.

President Trump said he intends to nominate John Bass as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. The longtime diplomat has been the American ambassador to Turkey since 2014.

In announcing the nomination, a White House statement said over the past decade the ambassador has supported "efforts to mobilize allies and marshal resources to combat terrorism and instability in Iraq, Syria and Southwest Asia." Bass has served at six U.S. missions overseas since becoming a diplomat in 1988.

He joins Alice Wells, a career Foreign Service Officer (FSO), who was quietly named the acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, late last month.

The two officials arrive at a pivotal time as the Trump administration deliberates its military and diplomatic strategy in Afghanistan, after nearly 17 years of war.

The administration's decision on whether to send more American troops to the country is not expected for "weeks," a Pentagon official told VOA Thursday.

Ambassador Wells' appointment came with little fanfare at a time when there is increasing attention on the expected closure of Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP), which is part of the planned downsizing and restructuring of the State Department.

Critics said it prompted confusion about U.S. diplomacy in the region where nearly 10,000 American troops are deployed.

Wells assumed the duties on June 26, according to the State Department.

“Ambassador Wells is ensuring that the department's approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan is integrated within our broader approach to the region,” a State Department spokesperson told VOA.

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