U.S. Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad Steps Down After Kabul Evacuation

The United States Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has stepped down from his role less than two months after the chaotic Kabul evacuation, the U.S. State Department confirmed on Oct. 18.

“I extend my gratitude for his decades of service to the American people,” U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Blinken said that Thomas West, who previously served as deputy special representative, will replace Khalilzad.

In a letter to Blinken obtained by CNN, Khalilzad said that he decided it was the right time to step down “at a juncture when we are entering a new phase in our Afghanistan policy.”

“The political arrangement between the Afghan government and the Taliban did not go forward as envisaged. The reasons for this are too complex and I will share my thoughts in the coming days and weeks, after leaving government service,” Khalilzad wrote.

Khalilzad, a veteran U.S. diplomat who previously held positions under former presidents, led the U.S. diplomatic talks with the Taliban in Qatar, which resulted in the signing of the so-called Doha Agreement in February 2020.

The agreement set the date for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops, bringing him scrutiny.

U.S. troops fully withdrew from Afghanistan last August, ending its 20-year presence in the South Asian country. Its withdrawal saw the return of the Taliban to power.

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