US Afghan representative Zalmay Khalilzad quits

Kabul: Thomas West has been appointed as the new US special representative to Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a statement.

This comes after Zalmay Khalilzad resigned from the post following chaotic withdrawal of the American forces from Afghanistan.

Blinken thanked Khalilzad for his “decades of service”.

Khalilzad was the person who led talks with the Taliban in Qatar that resulted in the Doha agreement between the Islamic group and former US President Donald Trump to fully withdraw US troops by May 2021.

But he has been criticized for not pressing the Taliban hard enough during peace talks.

In 2019, then president Ashraf Ghani’s national security adviser accused Khalilzad of “selling out” the Afghan government in talks while lending the Taliban a façade of credibility.

Khalilzad was given a free hand by the Trump administration, but the peace deal he brokered went nowhere. In negotiations, officials said Khalilzad gave away too much early by making clear that Washington was looking to withdraw all of its troops.

Born in Afghanistan, Khalilzad was a veteran of past Republican administrations who helped President George W Bush plan the overthrow of the Taliban in 2002.

The United States, meanwhile, said that it will not join talks on Afghanistan announced by Russia that will include two other key players, China and Pakistan.

Image courtesy of (courtesy: Wikimedia)

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