Ambassador Salmei Khalilzad will be replaced by his deputy Tom West, who has led Afghanistan policy to the Biden presidential change team and has been working closely with Khalilzad for several months.
“I thank Jalme Khalilzad, the Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan, for stepping down and for his decades of service to the American people,” Secretary of State Tony Blinkan said in a statement. “Thomas West, a former deputy special envoy, will be Afghanistan’s special envoy.”
CNN was expected to announce the Biden administration earlier in the day on Monday. CNN approached Khalilzat for comment.
“He sets aside and alienates the most trusted partner and ally,” Mohib said of Khalilzat at the time.
During those talks, Abdul Ghani Bhardar, the co-founder of the Taliban in Galilee, was recently appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Afghanistan. At times, Khalisad had a controversial relationship with Afghan government officials, which he considered to be pro-Taliban. His free-wheeling approach to Khalisat’s own deep personal ties and negotiations with his native Afghanistan is considered controversial by some and useful by others.
But after Biden won the election, the Biden administration asked for Khalilzad to remain, traditionally, the incoming administration replaces politically appointed officials with their group, especially in foreign policy matters.
With the May deadline approaching, Biden announced that all troops would be out by the 11th of September, the 20th anniversary.
Khalilzad was expected to leave in May, the source said, but initially agreed to stay longer than planned.
On that trip he accompanied the West with CIA Deputy Director David Cohen, and in late August went to Kabul with CIA Director Bill Burns to meet with a key Taliban leader in Kabul.
The U.S. State Department has called recent talks with Taliban representatives “honest and professional,” while the Taliban are “determined by its actions, not just its words.”
Taliban spokesman Jabihullah Mujahid told reporters, “We had extensive discussions with US representatives in Doha.”
The State Department has refused to elaborate on what Khalilzad’s plans are because the Taliban are in control of Afghanistan. Last month, spokesman Netflix acknowledged that Khalilzad had returned to the United States from Doha and noted that there was now a U.S. diplomatic mission to Afghanistan led by another senior diplomat in Qatar.
The story and title have been updated with additional information on Monday.
Kylie Atwood of CNN contributed to this report.
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