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Afghanistan gets new Foreign Minister

In a cabinet reshuffle announced by President Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah lost his job to Rangeen Dadfar Spanta.
None | By Reuters, Kabul
UPDATED ON MAR 23, 2006 02:05 PM IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced a limited cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday that included the appointment of an adviser on foreign affairs, Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, as foreign minister in place of Abdullah Abdullah.

Other changes included new ministers of commerce, rural development, transport, women's affairs, education and vocational and higher education, an official in Karzai's office said.

"The president ... Has appointed a new cabinet as well as members of the Supreme Court and presented it to the Wolesi Jirga for approval," Karzai's office said in a statement, referring to the lower house of Parliament.

• It was in 2001 that Abdullah became the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan.

He worked as an ophthalmologist in Kabul until 1985, after which he worked with Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

• He then joined the Panjshir Resistance Front in 1986.

• In the same year, he became an advisor to Ahmad Shah Masood, the mujahideen who fought against Soviet forces in the 1980s.

The assembly, formed after legislative elections in September, was not in session today and it was not immediately clear when it would debate and vote on Karzai's cabinet members.

There were no changes at the defence and finance ministries.

Zarar Ahmad Moqbel, who has been acting minister of interior since the resignation in September of the former minister, Ali Ahmad JalaliJalali, was made minister.

Analysts said the changes were aimed at improving the government's efficiency and came after protracted negotiations between different political factions. 

The move to replace Abdullah was long anticipated because of an apparent fall out between him and President Hamid Karzai over how the ministry was directing foreign affairs.

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