Colin Powell, the lone dove, quits

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The Independent US

Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, will resign from the Bush administration as soon as a replacement can be found. The announcement follows months of speculation about his future.

Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, will resign from the Bush administration as soon as a replacement can be found. The announcement follows months of speculation about his future.

Officials said General Powell, 67, handed in his resignation last Friday and told his staff when he arrived for work yesterday. His statement read: "I am pleased to have been part of a team that launched the global war against terror, liberated the Afghan and Iraqi people, brought the attention of the world to the problem of proliferation, reaffirmed our alliances, adjusted to the post- Cold War world and undertook major initiatives to deal with ... poverty and disease in the developing world."

General Powell's intention not to serve in a second term was one of the biggest and worst-kept secrets in Washington and there had been speculation about his future from almost the moment he joined the Bush administration. Before the election, rumours circulated that the veteran soldier was possibly eyeing a job as head of the World Bank. His fallback line was always that he "served at the pleasure of the President".

General Powell enjoyed deep respect at home and abroad and was seen as the most senior moderate voice in an administration packed with hardliners. A notoriously tough bureaucratic infighter, he was often at odds with the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said: "It's been a joy to work with Colin Powell. [He is a] a unique figure who had made the transition from being a great soldier to being a great statesman and diplomat."

Critics contend that he lost much of his respect and reputation as a moderating influence in the approach to war in Iraq. Having tried to persuade George Bush to "take the UN route" and build a broader coalition, he watched as the administration launched a pre-emptive attack with the support of just a handful of nations.

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