Top US envoy to Afghanistan steps down

Top US envoy to Afghanistan steps down
·2 min read

The top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, who negotiated the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan under former President Donald Trump, is resigning, the State Department said Monday.

"As Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad steps down from his role, I extend my gratitude for his decades of service to the American people," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a press statement.

Khalilzad told Blinken in a letter obtained by CNN that he had come to the decision to resign from his position citing the Biden administration being "at a juncture when we are entering a new phase in our Afghanistan policy."

"The political arrangement between the Afghan government and Taliban did not go forward as envisaged," Khalilzad wrote in the letter. "The reasons for this are too complex and I will share my thoughts in the coming days and weeks, after leaving government service."

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Khalilzad, an Afghan American, was appointed to be the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation in 2018 under the Trump administration, according to the State Department's website. Khalilzad also served as a representative to the United Nations from 2007-2009 and ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Khalilzad was involved in leading peace talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, and ended up signing the Doha agreement in February 2020 between the U.S. and the Taliban, agreeing to pull U.S. service members out of Afghanistan by May 2021.

President Joe Biden went ahead with a U.S. military pullout from the country after 20 years of war by the end of August. The withdrawal was marred with controversy as it was marked by a swift Taliban takeover of Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government, frantic evacuations, and an explosion at Kabul's airport that killed 13 U.S. service members and hundreds of Afghans.

Khalilzad will be replaced by his deputy, Thomas West, who served on Biden's National Security Council.

West will be taking over duties such as leading "diplomatic efforts," advising State Department top brass, as well as working with the U.S. Embassy in Doha in order to promote "America's interests in Afghanistan," according to the statement from Blinken.


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Following the announcement of Khalilzad's resignation, Blinken thanked Khalilzad for "decades of tireless service to the United States" in a tweet Monday evening.

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Tags: News, Afghanistan, State Department, Antony Blinken, National Security

Original Author: Elizabeth Faddis

Original Location: Top US envoy to Afghanistan steps down

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