Dr Zalmai Rassoul


Dr Zalmai Rassoul has a wealth of experience in diplomacy, international affairs, governance, and consensus building. He served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from January 2010 to October 2013.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Zalmai Rassoul played an instrumental role in reshaping, strengthening, and expanding Afghanistan’s bilateral relations with countries at the regional, global and multilateral level. Under his leadership, significant progress was made towards promoting regional cooperation with Afghanistan’s neighbours and through multilateral agencies. As such, within his vision, the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011, as one of the key Afghan-led multi-stakeholder platforms for sincere and results-oriented regional cooperation, partnership, and consensus building. Furthermore, recognizing the urgency of multilateral cooperation in Afghanistan’s critical juncture, he prioritized the drive to revitalize the country’s foreign relations and membership with international organizations. During his tenure, he negotiated Afghanistan’s membership with the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) and brokered an observer status with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). At Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Rassoul is a staunch advocate of the United Nations’ multilateral cooperation and collective engagement. He represented Afghanistan during numerous UN high level meetings and forums, including sessions of the UN General Assembly. In particular, he led the Afghan delegation to the 66th session of the UNGA in 2011, and the 68th session in 2013.

Moreover, Dr Rassoul dedicated tireless efforts to maintain and further expand international consensus in support of peace, and nation-building efforts in Afghanistan. Notably, driven by his conviction, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated and hosted, for the first time ever, an international conference on Afghanistan in 2010, held in the country’s capital Kabul. The International Kabul Conference marked the beginning of the “Kabul Process”, subsequently transforming the trilateral partnership between the Afghan Government, the United Nations and the International Community.

Prior to his appointment as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Dr Zalmai Rassoul served as the National Security Advisor of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since June 2002. While being in office, Dr Rassoul brought forth constructive gains in equilibrating pursuits of the Afghan security institutions, in synchronization with Afghanistan’s foreign policy, optimizing a whole-of-government apparatus. In that role, he closely monitored and operationalized directions on the establishment of the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and Counter-Narcotics Office. Moreover, among an array of his responsibilities included conducting National Threat Assessments, developing and institutionalizing the National Security Policy.

Before his appointment as the National Security Advisor, Dr Rassoul was appointed as the Minister of Civil Aviation in 2002. During which time, he revived Afghanistan’s aviation sector, as his vital role saw Afghanistan’s readmission to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Preceding his public service in the Afghan Government, Dr Rassoul contributed in a delegate capacity to the historic December 2001 Bonn Conference. Following the Bonn Conference, he returned to Kabul to take part at the inauguration of the Afghan Interim Administration.

In Dr Rassoul’s early career, as an Afghan living in Italy. He worked as the Director of Secretariat of His Majesty Mohammad Zaher Shah – the former King of Afghanistan, who at the time was living in exile in Rome. Plighted by the on-going armed conflict and loss of innocent lives at home, he devoted his full attention to the convening of an Emergency Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) – an initiative by the former King which aimed at achieving a political settlement to end the decades-long war in the country. His unwavering efforts at the Secretariat in Rome paved the way for the future political transition of Afghanistan. He has been deeply active for several decades in the political struggle for the rights of the Afghan people to live in peace, and for their self-determination to decide their future in accordance with their free will through democratic processes.

Dr Rassoul was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and attended Istiqlal French High School where he graduated as the valedictorian. Subsequently, he travelled to France to study on a scholarship at the Paris Medical School and received his M.D. in 1973.

A multilinguist, he is fluent in Pashto, Dari, English, French, and Italian, and has a working knowledge of Arabic. He has over 30 publications in European and American medical journals and was a member of the American Society of Nephrology.