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US-Taliban peace talks : Envoy Khalilzad testifies before Congress over failure of Afghan Peace Process

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Washington DC, Sep 20: Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, testified before the US Congress on Thursday over the failure of the US-Taliban peace talks.

Representative Eliot Engel, the Democrat chairperson of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a public hearing post arrival of Khalilzad: “In the last few weeks, we’ve seen the Afghan reconciliation process go off the rails in spectacular fashion.”

“We’ve learned that the president up-ended the deal and we have learned that the peace deal evidently is dead,” Engel said.

Acting assistant secretary of state, Alice Wells, told the House panel the Trump administration still remains committed to reach a peace deal and introduce long-term stability and peace in Afghanistan despite the cuts in financial aids, according to Al-Jazeera news reports.

“We want to be able to signal … that we are committed to the long-term development of Afghanistan but not over-committed to the point where we are assuming unreasonable or even a counterproductive level of involvement,” Wells told panel in a public hearing.

On Sep 7, Trump, in a series of tweets, confirmed he was calling off the secret negotiations, scheduled for Sunday with the group’s representatives and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani at Maryland’s Camp David in the United States.

Trump, via tweets, has said he “called off” scheduled peace talks and “cancelled” a scheduled secret meeting with the group’s “major leaders”. He took this decision post Taliban declaration it was behind a terror attack in Afghan capital Kabul that claimed the life of an American troop and other 11 people.

On Sep 8, Taliban said Trump’s move would lead to a further loss of US assets and lives. “The Americans will suffer more than anyone else for cancelling the talks,” a statement said.

The Taliban also condemned United States President Donald Trump’s announcement of the suspension of ongoing peace negotiations with the insurgent group to put an end to 18-year-long civil war and crisis in Afghanistan and termed Trump’s decision as an “anti-peace” move.

 

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