Marc Grossman to be US special envoy to Af-Pak

Washington: Marc Grossman, former US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, is expected to replace the late Richard Holbrooke as Obama Administration` s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The post has been vacant since Richard Holbrooke, 68, who was the Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan for two years, died suddenly last December.

An announcement in this regard is expected to be made by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday in New York where she would deliver the First Richard Holbrooke Memorial Lecture of the Asia Society, The Washington Post reported today.

Clinton met Grossman yesterday at the State Department.

"Retired diplomat Marc Grossman is expected to take over as the administration is facing a crucial year for its war strategy in Afghanistan, where it plans to begin US troop withdrawals this summer and to move toward a political settlement including negotiations with the Taliban before the end of 2011," the daily said.

Grossman, who spent time at the US Embassy in Islamabad in late 70s, at present is the vice president of the Cohen Group, headed by the former Defence Secretary William Cohen. The group has several clients with contracts in South Asia.

Groosman`s appointment as Obama Administration`s point man for Afghanistan and Pakistan comes at a time when the US has suspended high-level official contacts with Pakistan after Islamabad refused to grant diplomatic immunity to an American official facing murder charges in the country.

During his nearly three-decade of service in the State Department, Grossman served as assistant secretary of state for Europe and ambassador to Turkey. He retired as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in 2005.

During the Carter Administration, Grossman served as Deputy Special Adviser to Carter and in several capacities for the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.

His other overseas assignments include tours as a political officer at the US Mission to NATO and in Islamabad.

A career foreign service officer since 1976, Grossman has a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and M.Sc. in International Relations from London School of Economics and Political Science.

"The key issues at my first diplomatic post in Islamabad, Pakistan in 1977 were America`s competition with the Soviet Union, Pakistan`s nuclear weapons program, and violence in Afghanistan and Iran," Grossman wrote in the October 2010 issue of American Diplomacy.

"But American diplomacy there also focused on the connection between the lack of political and economic development in Pakistan and issues of what we would now call larger `human security`.When I went to visit one of Pakistan`s main political opposition figures, then under house arrest, he told me that there was one thing he admired most about the United States," he said.