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Originally published October 27, 2009 at 1:25 PM | Page modified October 27, 2009 at 11:14 PM

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Afghan war leads diplomat to resign

A former Marine who fought in Iraq and became a diplomat in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan has resigned in a high-profile protest of the Afghan war.

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON —

A former Marine who fought in Iraq and became a diplomat in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan has resigned in a high-profile protest of the Afghan war.

Foreign-service officer Matthew Hoh is the first U.S. official known to have quit in protest of the war. The Washington Post first reported his resignation in Tuesday's editions.

Hoh said he stepped down only six months into the job because he believed the war is fueling the insurgency. The State Department said it respected his views but did not agree with them.

"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan," Hoh wrote in his Sept. 10 resignation letter.

"I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end."

Hoh did not respond immediately to requests for comment from The Associated Press but told the Post that he had concluded that Afghans resented the presence of U.S. troops and were fighting to drive them out and not for ideological reasons.

Hoh's resignation took effect Sept. 28, according to State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, who said the government appreciated Hoh's service in Iraq and as a political officer in Zabul, Afghanistan.

"We take his point of view very seriously, but we continue to believe that we're on track to achieving the goal that the president has set before us," Kelly said.

Kelly noted that senior U.S. officials in both Afghanistan and Washington had met with Hoh and "heard him out." "We respect his right to dissent."

But Kelly also said Hoh was a temporary hire whose tour was to end in March after a limited, one-year assignment and that his resignation was not comparable to those of career diplomats who quit to protest U.S. military actions in Bosnia and Iraq.

Several career diplomats resigned in the administrations of former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to protest U.S. policies.

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