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US envoy for Afghanistan steps down after withdrawal; replaced by Thomas West

Prime News, International (Kabul), October 19:- The US special envoy for Afghanistan is stepping down following the chaotic American withdrawal from the country, the State Department said Monday. Zalmay Khalilzad will leave the post this week after more than three years on the job under both the Trump and Biden administrations and will be replaced by veteran American diplomat Thomas West, Secretary of State Tony Blinken said. Thomas West, who previously served as the Deputy Special Representative, will be the Special Representative for Afghanistan, he said.

West, who earlier served on the Vice President’s national security team and the National Security Council staff, will lead diplomatic efforts, advise the Secretary and Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs and coordinate closely with the US.

Khalilzad had been criticized for not pressing the Taliban hard enough in peace talks begun while Trump was president but Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked him for his work.

“I extend my gratitude for his decades of service to the American people,” Blinken said of Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Afghanistan.

Khalilzad had initially planned to leave the job in May after Biden’s announcement that the U.S. withdrawal would be completed before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in September. However, he was asked to stay on and did so.

Khalilzad had served as the special envoy for Afghan reconciliation under both the Trump and Biden administrations since September 2018, when the-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brought him on board to lead negotiations with the Taliban and the Afghan government.

An Afghan native, Khalilzad was unsuccessful in getting the two sides together to forge a power-sharing deal but he did negotiate a U.S. agreement with the Taliban in February 2020 that ultimately led to the end of America’s longest-running war. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

 

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