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Aug 28, 7:34 PM EDT

Obama taps veteran diplomat to be Afghan envoy

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is tapping a veteran diplomat with experience in Kabul to be the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.

The White House says Michael McKinley is Obama's pick to replace Ambassador James Cunningham, who has served since 2012.

McKinley is currently Cunningham's deputy at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Before arriving in Afghanistan in 2013, he served as the U.S. ambassador to Colombia and to Peru. That means he's already been confirmed by the Senate, although his nomination to the new job will still require confirmation.

His nomination comes amid a long-running dispute over the results of Afghanistan's presidential election. The U.S. needs a new leader in place to sign an agreement with the U.S. to keep some American forces in Afghanistan past the end of this year.

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