• publish: 14 September 2019
  • time: 1:58 am
  • category: Politics
  • No: 10321
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On Taliban talks

Khalilzad will be questioned by US congressional panel

A U.S. Congressional committee has issued a subpoena to question President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, next week after peace talks with the Taliban abruptly ended.

Representative Eliot Engel (Democrat-New York), the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was “fed up” with the Trump administration, which he blamed for preventing Khalilzad from briefing lawmakers and keeping the American public “in the dark” about the peace process, which aims to end the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan.

The State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the subpoena, Reuters reported.

“So Ambassador Khalilzad is here in Washington, and so that I think answers the question for where he is,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in Washington on September 12.

The open congressional hearing is scheduled for September 19 and comes after Trump on September 9 called the peace talks “dead” having earlier canceled a secret meeting with Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

Trump’s sudden move angered many in Congress exacerbating their frustration at having their requests to arrange briefings with Khalilzad constantly refused in February, April, and earlier this month.

Ending the Afghanistan war and bringing U.S. soldiers home has been one of Trump’s key foreign policy initiatives.

Ortagus has said that talks with the Taliban are off for now in accordance with Trump’s declarations.

This comes as US President Donald Trump earlier this month called off negotiations with the Taliban during which Mr. Khalilzad “agreed in principle” on a deal with the Taliban which would allow a gradual withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.

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