US ambassador to Afghanistan leaving post in 'long-planned' departure

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan is leaving his post in a “long-planned” departure, he announced Monday.

Ambassador John Bass announced the move on Twitter, saying it was time for him to leave the country after serving there since December 2017.

“My earnest hope is for leaders and citizens across this country to find strength in unity, put aside their differences, and work together to negotiate a political settlement with the Taliban. Afghans and this beautiful country deserve nothing less,” he posted. 

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A State Department spokesperson told The Hill that the departure was “long-planned” and “part of the normal rotation cycle.”

But it does come before a peace deal with the Taliban is officially negotiated. 

Ambassador Ross Wilson, who served in Azerbaijan and Turkey under former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, will step in to run the U.S. embassy and is set to arrive “soon,” the spokesperson said. A permanent ambassador has not been nominated by the White House.

"The Department is deeply grateful to Ambassador Bass for his superior service in one of the world's most challenging diplomatic postings,” the spokesperson said in a statement obtained by The Hill. “He skillfully advanced the Trump Administration's goal of reaching a political settlement in Afghanistan that ensures terrorists can never again threaten the United States from Afghan soil while leading a large diplomatic mission in the face of numerous security threats.”

Peace negotiations with the Taliban stumbled after attacks last year, but President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE restarted the talks in late 2019.