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U.S. Afghan Envoy Stepping Down After Failure of Talks

Zalmay Khalilzad, the current special representative for Afghanistan under the Biden administration, will step down after two years of unsuccessful negotiations over a peace deal with Taliban officials. The group seized control of Afghanistan in August. Mr. Khalilzad had held a range of different roles spanning several administrations, notably the US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Khalilzhad wrote that his emotions regarding the situation are complex and that he did not wish to share more details at the time. In 2020, Mr. Khalilzad and former President Donald Trump’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo were able to broker a ceasefire agreement and US withdrawal with Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. The goal of the deal was to bring peace to the conflict-ridden country.

According to officials familiar with the talks, Mr. Khalilzad was enthusiastic and adamant about Taliban participation. He stated that the US would only be able to withdraw troops if it was ensured that a power-sharing agreement is set up and adhered to. The power-sharing dynamic consisted of the US-backed Afghan government and the Taliban. After the US finished its withdrawal missions over the summer, Mr. Khalilzad continued his talks with the Taliban. However, there was little to negotiate after the coup aside from the safety of foreigners and eligible Afghans who had the opportunity to flee Afghanistan and seek refuge in the US.

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