New head of U.N. Afghan mission appointed
January 18, 2000
Web posted at: 8:17 AM HKT (0017 GMT)
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Francesc Vendrell of Spain on Monday to be his personal representative to Afghanistan as part of an effort to boost U.N. cooperation with the war-devastated nation.
The appointment marks an attempt by the U.N. chief to bolster the political presence of the United Nations in Afghanistan following the collapse of U.N.-backed efforts to bring peace between Afghanistan's warring parties.
Annan's special envoy to the talks, former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi, resigned in frustration last October after weeks of unsuccessful shuttle diplomacy between Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia and an opposition alliance led by former President Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Annan then froze the U.N. special envoy's position.
Annan also announced his intention to appoint a new head of the U.N. Mission in Afghanistan to take over peacemaking efforts and said he will try to move the mission's headquarters from Islamabad, Pakistan, to the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Vendrell, who will take over that job Feb. 1, has most recently been Annan's deputy personal representative for East Timor.
Relations between the Taliban and the United Nations have been strained since the militia's 1996 takeover of Kabul.
The United Nations withdrew its international staff from Kabul for several months after a U.N. worker was killed and another wounded in attacks that followed U.S. missile strikes on eastern Afghanistan in August 1998.
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