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British diplomat named Afghanistan development chief

Seeking to make aid and development spending in Afghanistan more effective, NATO named Mark Sedwill, the British Ambassador to Kabul, its new civilian representative in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

By Correspondent / January 26, 2010


Britain's ambassador to Kabul was named Tuesday as the new NATO Civilian Representative in Afghanistan, a move designed to improve coordination of the international reconstruction effort there.

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In what is expected to be a beefed-up role, Mark Sedwill's job will be to prevent duplication of effort among civilian aid agencies on the ground.
The diplomat will work closely with the commander of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal as part of a plan to raise the profile and efficiency of non-military efforts alongside the expanding military operation.

He will also be expected to coordinate with Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai, who reacted angrily to the leak of a US diplomatic cable on Tuesday. The New York Times reported that US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry urged against the current US troop surge to Afghanistan in a cable last November. In part, he wrote: "President Karzai is not an adequate strategic partner. The proposed counterinsurgency strategy assumes an Afghan political leadership that is both able to take responsibility and to exert sovereignty in the furtherance of our goal... yet Karzai continues to shun responsibility for any sovereign burden, whether defense, governance or development."

Speaking from Istanbul, Karzai told reporters that: "If partnership means submission to the American will, then, of course, it's not going to be the case... But if partnership means cooperation between two sovereign countries, one of course very poor and the other very rich,... then we are partners."

Sedwill, who served as a UN weapons inspector in Iraq in the 1990s and was once Britain’s Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan, has been the British ambassador in Kabul since last April.

In addition to his coordination role, his responsibilities will include overseeing efforts by the Afghan government to attract low and middle-ranking Taliban fighters back to civilian life with offers of jobs and money.