Lynne O'Donnell, a foreign correspondent who has covered major stories throughout the Middle East and Asia for two decades, has been named Kabul bureau chief for The Associated Press, leading the agency's coverage of Afghanistan at a time of transition and turmoil.

The appointment was announced on Tuesday by Ian Phillips, AP's Middle East news director, and Dan Perry, the regional editor for text.

O'Donnell succeeds Patrick Quinn, who is now based in Cairo as a supervisor and planner for the Middle East regional editing desk. She will be the senior reporter and will lead a team of reporters, photographers, video journalists and support staff covering Afghanistan.

"Lynne is an experienced foreign correspondent with a keen eye for a story and getting beyond breaking news to human stories," said John Daniszewski, vice president and senior managing editor for international news at AP.

Phillips said O'Donnell's previous experience in Afghanistan would enhance AP's reporting and prove crucial in protecting staff working in difficult and dangerous conditions.

O'Donnell served as the Kabul bureau chief for Agence France-Presse from 2009 to 2010. She won the 2010 Human Rights Press Award for a series of reports on conditions faced by Afghan women.

Previously, she was Asia features editor for the French agency. She also covered major breaking news stories across the region for AFP, including terrorist attacks and natural disasters, as well as the 2008 Olympic Games.

"Lynne's sharp mind and experience will be invaluable in keeping AP out front at a time when U.S. and foreign forces are preparing to leave the country, a disputed election is fuelling tensions, and the Taliban are seeking to regain influence," said Perry.

In the 1990s, O'Donnell spent six years reporting on Chinese economic issues as a commodities specialist with Reuters, and was Beijing-based China correspondent for The Australian newspaper, where her beat included Mongolia and North Korea.

She covered the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, reporting from Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe, including the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban, and the 2003 Iraq war.

In 2007, she authored "High Tea In Mosul: The True Story of Two Englishwomen in Iraq," telling the story of how ordinary Iraqi people lived under Saddam Hussein's rule, through the eyes of expatriate women married to Iraqis. The book was published in a number of languages and is currently under development as a feature film.

O'Donnell, an Australian, speaks Chinese and Japanese, and conversational Turkish and French. She studied sociology and journalism at RMIT University in Melbourne, and Chinese at the Institute for Economic Management in Beijing. She also studied in Japan. O'Donnell has been based as a correspondent in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Kabul and London, and has reported from datelines all over the world.