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Afghanistan Names Diplomat Hakimi Ambassador to U.S.

Afghanistan has named deputy foreign minister Eklil Hakimi its new ambassador to the U.S., embassy spokesman Abduljalil Ghafoory said tonight by telephone.

His appointment comes the same week that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to name retired U.S. diplomat Marc Grossman on Friday as the new special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, to replace Richard Holbrooke, who died last December.

Hakimi submitted his credentials today to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg, and is scheduled to present credentials to President Barack Obama on February 23, at the start of planned ministerial meetings between the U.S. and Afghanistan in Washington.

Hakimi, who arrived in Washington on Feb. 14, according to the embassy, formerly served as ambassador to Japan and China. In his new post, he will also be the top Afghan envoy to Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.

During his tenure as deputy foreign minister, Hakimi was influential in strengthening ties with donor countries and in regional cooperation and economic integration projects such as the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, according to the embassy.

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