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Khalilzad Says He Plans to Leave UN Post

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan —  U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad said in comments broadcast Wednesday that he will resign "in the next few months" to work in the private sector.

"My decision is that I will resign from my official work in the next few months and start a private business," Khalilzad told Afghanistan's Ariana Television Network in Dari, one the country's main languages. His comments were translated by The Associated Press.

Richard Grenell, Khalilzad's spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said Khalilzad "has no immediate plans to resign."

Khalilzad is Afghan-born and has also served as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, a background that has fueled rumors he might run for president of Afghanistan. But Khalilzad has repeatedly said he is not a candidate.

"I have said earlier that I'm not a candidate for any position in Afghanistan, but I am at the service of the Afghan people," he told Ariana.

Khalilzad has said he wants a job in the private sector in the United States. He has also said publicly that he does not want to be the last member of the Bush administration to leave office.

Khalilzad became the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in April 2007 with a reputation as a gregarious, glad-handing diplomat. He is a favorite at the White House, where he is known as "Zal," and a confidant of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, with whom he worked in the first Bush administration.

Khalilzad served as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq from June 2005 until March 2007 and as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. He was a counselor to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and special assistant to Bush at the National Security Council from 2000-2002.

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Associated Press writer Edith Lederer contributed to this report from the United Nations in New York.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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