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Diplomat nominated as ambassador to Mexico

President Obama on Wednesday nominated as the new ambassador to Mexico a career U.S. diplomat now serving in Afghanistan.

Earl Anthony Wayne, the deputy ambassador in Kabul, would replace Carlos Pascual, who resigned in March after Mexican President Felipe Calderon became upset over leaked embassy cables laying out shortcomings in Mexico's war against drug cartels.

Wayne has been in the U.S. Foreign Service since 1975. He has been assigned to the embassy in Afghanistan since 2009, during a period of U.S. combat operations and tensions between Western forces and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Wayne was ambassador in Argentina from 2006 to 2009 and assistant secretary of State for economic and business affairs for six years before that. He has served in other foreign policy posts in Washington and abroad, taking a leave to write about national security for the Christian Science Monitor in the late 1980s.

He is a graduate of UC Berkeley, with master's degrees from Harvard, Princeton and Stanford universities.

The nomination requires Senate approval.

Wayne would serve as ambassador in Mexico at a charged moment in the bilateral relationship.

The U.S. government has steadfastly backed Calderon's 4-year-old crackdown on drugs, with frequent praise and more than $1 billion in equipment and training. But the cables, made public by WikiLeaks, bluntly described the drug war as an effort slowed by interagency rivalries, a risk-averse Mexican army and delays by police in acting on tips from American agents.

Although the leaked assessments were largely accurate, the criticisms irked Mexican leaders.

Another cable described as "bleak" the prospects for Calderon's conservative National Action Party in next year's presidential election.

Calderon made his displeasure with Pascual clear during a visit to Washington in March. Pascual later resigned after less than two years on the job.

ken.ellingwood@latimes.com

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