“We’ve asked him to continue the vital work that he’s performing,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his first news conference since taking office on Wednesday.
Khalilzad, a political scientist born in Afghanistan, is a veteran of Republican administrations who served as US ambassador to the United Nations, Iraq and Afghanistan under former President George W Bush.
Former President Donald Trump’s administration, eager to end the US’s longest war, tasked Khalilzad with negotiating with the Taliban, culminating in a deal signed in Qatar on February 29 last year.
Under the accord, the US will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by May 2021 with the Taliban promising not to allow territory to be used by its fighters – the original goal of the US invasion following the September 11, 2001 attacks.Play Video
Blinken reiterated his concern that the new administration has not seen parts of the accord that were not made public.
“One of the things that we need to understand is exactly what is in the agreements that were reached between the United States and the Taliban, to make sure that we fully understand the commitments that the Taliban has made as well as any commitments that we’ve made,” Blinken said.
The Taliban did not halt carrying out violent attacks in Afghanistan although the group started its first talks with the internationally recognised government.
Biden as vice president under former President Barack Obama was an early proponent of leaving Afghanistan and has generally backed the goal of an exit.
But he has also called for a small force to remain to be able to tackle threats – a position unlikely to be backed by the Taliban.
Blinken Confirms He Asked Khalilzad to Stay On
On Monday, a US source said that President Joe Biden’s administration had extended Khalilzad’s mission.
“Yes, we have. We have asked him to continue the vital work” that he conducted during the Trump administration, Blinken told reporters at a briefing, as quoted by Reuters.
On Monday, a US source told TOLOnews that President Joe Biden’s administration had extended Khalilzad’s mission for an unspecific period of time.
The US source also said that the Biden administration started the assessment of the US-Taliban peace deal signed between the two sides in Doha on February 29, particularly the (secret) annexes to the agreement.
The assessment will be wrapped up in three weeks’ time, the source said.
New chapter in US and Washington ties
On Sunday, President Ashraf Ghani said that a new chapter has been opened in Kabul and Washington relations and that the United States sees Afghanistan fundamentally as a partner.
“A new chapter has been opened in our ties with our main partner the United States and it will continue,” President Ghani said at a cabinet meeting on Monday. “Our relations will be at the level of government-to-government.”
Ghani stressed that the United States is reviewing the agreement it signed with the Taliban, and, after a review, the US government will consult Kabul on finding a joint roadmap for the agreement.
“A quick review of the US’s deal with the Taliban will be done by the US National Security Council and then a fundamental consultation will be done with us,” Ghani said.
On Friday, the United States National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with his Afghan counterpart NSA Hamdullah Mohib regarding the US commitment to the US-Afghan partnership and to peace for “all the people of Afghanistan,” according to a statement by the US National Security Council.
The Afghan government has in the past reacted cautiously with Khalilzad.
The Afghan peace negotiations that started on Sept. 12 last year have made progress in their procedural rules. They took a three-month break and resumed their talks on Jan. 6. However, the Afghan republic and the Taliban’s negotiators have not held any meetings over the last 13 days to discuss the agenda of the talks.
Experts said that the United States is expected to announce its stance on the Afghan peace process and the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan at the ministerial meeting of the alliance next month.