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US Ambassador Crocker to Step Down from Afghan Post

Ryan Crocker testifies on Capitol Hill before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Afghanistan (July 27, 2010 file photo).
The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, confirmed with what he called regret his plans to step down from his position in the coming months.

U.S. officials announced Tuesday that Ryan Crocker will be stepping down due to health reasons as Washington's envoy in Afghanistan sometime after major Afghan donors meet this July in Tokyo.

"As is our wont, we will squeeze every ounce of value out of him," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

And Washington has demonstrated this with the veteran diplomat repeatedly since the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001.

For the past decade, Crocker has been present at every major battlefield in Washington's so-called war on terror. From reopening the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in early 2002, to becoming ambassador in Iraq in 2007.

"Never again - never again - will what happened to our country on September 11 be repeated from this country. That's our pledge, that's the work we're doing," said Crocker.

"I don't begin my tour here with any illusions," he said after taking over the embassy in Baghdad. "It's going to be very, very difficult, but I certainly believe that success is possible, otherwise I wouldn't be standing here."

Prior to that, Washington relied on Crocker as ambassador to Pakistan from 2004 to 2007 to help navigate the tumultuous relationship with the U.S. ally.

During his tenure, he oversaw a massive aid effort to assist Pakistan in recovering from the country's worst-ever earthquake.

"When crisis hits an ally, another ally steps forward," said Crocker. "That is what we have done."

Crocker left retirement in mid-2011 to once again take the reins in Kabul. And now he is stepping down in a different atmosphere following the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and NATO's preparations to hand over security control to the Afghans in 2014.

"We do feel we are prevailing in this with our Afghan partners," he said. "We are committed to an end to this conflict, but a responsible end, and that means there is going to be further bad days ahead."

But after helping to secure a U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership through 2024, Crocker says the United States will remain vested in Afghanistan long after he is gone.

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