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India's regional footprint may widen after US disbands Af-Pak unit

US' Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's decision not announce Laurel Miller's successor may be down to White House's plan to slash State Department's operations by 30 per cent. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jun 24, 2017, 05.28 AM (IST)

The United States is considering getting India to play a larger role in the southAsian region, after Washington's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan stepped down on Friday.

Envoy Laurel Miller's resignation comes on the heels of the US planning to send thousands of troops to Afghanistan amid worsening security situation in the war-torn nation, Politico reported.

No successor has been named, with an official, wishing anonymity, informing AFP that the Donald Trump administration believes that the Af-Pak issue will best managed at a regional level.

That effectively hands Miller's responsibilities to South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau, which has a much bigger footprint that includes India.

India's role looks likely to expand especially after State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has not decided what to do with the post yet.

The decision to scrap the Af-Pak unit may also be Trump administration's plan to whittle down State Department's operations by almost 30 per cent. 

Meanwhile, Miller will resume her operation at the Rand Corporation, a global policy think tank.

Trump has given the Pentagon and US commanders wide latitude to decide on the future of Washington`s longest ever war -- the 16-year slog in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is reportedly planning to deploy up to 5,000 extra troops to bolster efforts to train Afghan forces to repel a resurgent Taliban insurgency.

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