US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, a veteran diplomat who previously served as the US envoy to Iraq, Pakistan and Syria, plans to step down soon, CBS news reported early Tuesday.
The surprise news came after the conclusion of a NATO summit in Chicago in which leaders charted a path out of the unpopular war in Afghanistan, where local security forces are to take the lead in combat from mid-2013.
CBS news said the US officials it spoke to did not give a reason or an exact date for Crocker’s impending departure, quoting a senior State Department official as saying only that Kabul is “a tough place to serve.”
The US embassy in Kabul would neither confirm nor deny the report. “As a matter of policy the embassy does not comment on personnel issues,” it said.
Officials in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment.
Crocker was appointed out of retirement in July 2011.
He had previously served as ambassador to Iraq from 2007-2009, during a period in which violence dropped dramatically and the two countries signed a military pact providing for the eventual withdrawal of all US forces.
In recognition of his efforts, Crocker received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, in 2009.
He was ambassador to Pakistan from 2004-2007 and to Syria from 1998-2001.