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World

Biden to retain Trump's top Afghan envoy

  • The Biden Administration is retaining the services of Zalmay Khalilzad, former President Trump's top envoy for Afghanistan peace negotiations, who has led the regular talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
  • Traditionally an incoming administration replaces politically appointed officials with their own team, particularly on crucial foreign policy matters.
Updated 23 Jan, 2021

The Biden Administration is retaining the services of Zalmay Khalilzad, former President Trump's top envoy for Afghanistan peace negotiations, who has led the regular talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Traditionally an incoming administration replaces politically appointed officials with their own team, particularly on crucial foreign policy matters. However, retaining Khalilzad demonstrates the Biden Administration's willingness to adhere to the terms of the U.S-Taliban peace agreement.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is the United States' official representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, a position that he has occupied since the past two years under the Trump Administration.

Khalilzad is a diplomatic veteran, having served as the U.S Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations, having been well-known in the foreign policy circles.

During his confirmation hearing, Anthony Blinken, President Biden’s pick for Secretary of State, reiterated Biden’s commitment to ending the war in Afghanistan, stating that "We have to look carefully at what has actually been negotiated [...] I haven't been privy to it yet, particularly with regard to the agreement that was reached in the first instance between the United States and the Taliban to understand fully what commitments were made or not made by the Taliban. And then to see where they get in their negotiations with the government of Afghanistan."

"We want to end this so-called forever war. We want to bring our forces home. We want to retain some capacity to deal with any resurgence of terrorism which is what brought us there in the first place," Blinken said during his hearing.

Extending the military mission also threatens to disrupt the peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, as the negotiations were committed to by the Taliban a result of the U.S agreeing to a full troop withdrawal.

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