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U.S. Names Veteran Diplomat as Envoy to Anti-Taliban Forces

November 06, 2001|From a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration on Monday named veteran diplomat James Dobbins, an architect of U.S. policy toward Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina after the conflicts there, to serve as a special envoy to anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

"His mission is to continue our work with the Afghan opposition groups, the Afghan parties, to try to help them form a future government for Afghanistan," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Boucher said Dobbins, 60, will be based in Washington but will spend most of his time on the road, meeting Afghan opposition leaders, both those in exile and those in opposition-controlled regions of the country.

Persuading leaders of these factions to set aside their differences and form a coalition capable of ruling Afghanistan is a key element of the U.S. war on terrorism. The Bush administration wants to overthrow the ruling Taliban regime because of its links to Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorist network.

Last month, the administration named Richard Haass, the State Department's policy planning chief, to coordinate work with the United Nations on creation of a post-Taliban government.

"Haass will be . . . coordinating on the policy side in working with the United Nations and coordinating from Washington with a little bit of [travel]," Boucher said. "Dobbins will be coordinating with the Afghan parties with a lot of travel and a little bit in Washington."

Dobbins, a career diplomat, was acting assistant secretary of State for European affairs in the closing days of the Clinton administration.

Before that, he was the State Department's senior manager for peace operations in Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia and Kosovo, which is a province of Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic. He was also President Clinton's special advisor on the Kosovo and Bosnian peace accords.

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