Zalmay Khalilzad: US envoy for Afghanistan steps down following chaotic evacuation

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Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad will be replaced by his deputy, Tom West, who led Afghan policy for the Biden presidential changeover team and has been doing work carefully with Khalilzad for months.

“As Specific Agent for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad measures down from his position, I extend my gratitude for his a long time of company to the American individuals,” Secretary of Point out Tony Blinken reported in a statement. “Thomas West, who beforehand served as the Deputy Particular Agent, will be the Distinctive Agent for Afghanistan.”

CNN reported before Monday that the Biden administration was envisioned to announce Khalilzad’s departure. CNN has reached out to Khalilzad for remark.

Khalilzad served below Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden as the Exclusive Agent for Afghanistan Reconciliation. A diplomatic veteran who is well-recognized in international policy circles, Khalilzad has also served as a US ambassador to Iraq and the United Nations.Khalilzad led the talks with the Taliban in Qatar that resulted in the Doha settlement with the Trump administration to thoroughly withdraw US troops by Could 2021, a position which introduced him considerable scrutiny. In 2019, then-Afghan Nationwide Safety Adviser Hamdullah Mohib accused Khalilzad of getting determined by private political attain somewhat than accomplishing peace.

“He is ostracizing and alienating a quite reliable ally and lover,” Mohib said of Khalilzad at the time.

Through individuals talks, Khalilizad’s counterpart was Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was just lately named Afghanistan’s performing deputy prime minister. At instances, Khalilizad had a contentious partnership with Afghan authorities officials who viewed him as favoring the Taliban. Khalilizad’s personal deeply private ties to Afghanistan, the place he was born, and his free of charge-wheeling solution to the negotiations have also been seen as controversial by some and efficient by many others.

But Khalilzad was requested by the Biden administration to stay on immediately after Biden gained the election even even though, ordinarily, an incoming administration replaces politically appointed officers with their possess staff, specially on overseas policy matters with this kind of significance.

With the Might deadline looming, Biden declared all troops would be out by the 20th anniversary of September 11th.

Khalilzad was predicted to depart in May well, the source who was briefed said, but then agreed to remain lengthier than initially planned.

His deputy, West, has been active, touring previously this thirty day period to Doha for the initial encounter-to-facial area conferences with the Taliban due to the fact the American departure. Because getting regulate of the state, the Taliban have been accused of dire human rights abuses, such as the illegal killing of 13 minority Shia Hazaras. Afghanistan’s well being care system has collapsed and there are severe food shortages.

West accompanied the CIA’s deputy director, David Cohen, on that vacation and experienced also been on a prior vacation in late August to Kabul with CIA Director Bill Burns to fulfill the prime Taliban chief in Kabul, according to one particular of the sources.

The US State Department known as the newest talks with reps of the Taliban “candid and experienced” when emphasizing that the Taliban “will be judged on its steps, not only its words and phrases.”

“The U.S. delegation focused on protection and terrorism concerns and harmless passage for U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners, as effectively as on human rights, such as the meaningful participation of females and girls in all areas of Afghan culture,” a readout from the Point out Section stated earlier this thirty day period. “The two sides also mentioned the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian support, right to the Afghan men and women.”

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid had instructed reporters, “We experienced a detailed discussion with the American delegation in Doha.”

Since the Taliban have taken manage of Afghanistan, the Point out Office has declined to detail what the ideas are for Khalilzad. Past month, spokesman Ned Value acknowledged Khalilzad experienced returned to the US from Doha and famous that there was now a US diplomatic mission for Afghanistan in Qatar led by yet another senior diplomat.

This tale and headline have been up-to-date with supplemental data Monday.

CNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.