No merger of Afghanistan-Pakistan office with South

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Washington, Feb 2: The US State Department has dismissed reports that its office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan will be merged with the South and Central Asia Bureau that handles India, saying there are no such plans.

"I know of no such plans to do so," State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, a day after a media report said the Department was considering such a move.

Washington

The powerful office of Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) headed by former high-profile diplomat late Richard Holbrooke, was carved out of the South and Central Asia (SCA) Bureau of the State Department soon after Barack Obama was sworn in as the US President in January 2009.

While for technical reasons, SRAP office falls within the SCA Bureau, for all practical purposes SRAP, which is currently headed by seasoned US diplomat Richard Olson, is a separate entity which reports directly to the Secretary of State. SRAP office is the focal point of the US Government on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reports had emerged saying that the US was considering a re-merger of the Af-Pak office with the South and Central Asia desk.

PTI

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