Zalmay Khalilzad steps down as US envoy to Afghanistan in wake of chaotic withdrawal, Thomas West to take over

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Oct 19, 2021, 01:22 PM(IST)

Former US Special Representative for Peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad (File photo) Photograph:( Reuters )

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According to Politico, Khalilzad stated in his resignation letter that "the political agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban did not go as planned."

The State Department has announced that the top US ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is stepping down, less than two months after the chaotic US departure from Afghanistan and Taliban control of the nation.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Monday that Khalilzad will be replaced by his deputy, Tom West, and that West will work closely with the US embassy, which is currently situated in Doha, on US interests in Afghanistan. 

"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," Blinken’s statement said.

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"I thank Ambassador Khalilzad for his service and welcome Special Representative West to the role."

According to Politico, Khalilzad stated in his resignation letter that "the political agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban did not go as planned."

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The reasons behind this are too difficult to discuss here, but I shall do so in the following days and weeks." 

"Going forward, I plan to contribute to the discussion and debate about not only what happened but what should be done next," he said according to Politico.

His departure followed his absence from the Biden administration's first formal negotiations with the Taliban following the US withdrawal, which took place in Doha earlier this month.

Khalilzad, who was born in Afghanistan, has held the position since 2018 and oversaw the discussions with the Taliban that resulted in the February 2020 deal for the departure of US soldiers this year.

Despite his Republican allegiance, Khalilzad was retained after Biden beat Donald Trump and chose to withdraw.

He then urged the hardline armed group and former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's Western-backed administration to reach a political settlement after decades of conflict. 

In mid-August, the government collapsed as the Taliban swept through the country and marched unopposed into the capital, Kabul.

(With inputs from agencies)

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