Blinken confirms Khalilzad to stay on as US peace envoy

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed Wednesday night that the Biden administration will retain the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad – who has for the past two years been the driving force behind the Afghan peace process.

Addressing a press conference in Washington DC on Wednesday, Blinken also confirmed the US-Taliban deal signed in February in Doha would be reviewed.

“With regard to Afghanistan, one of the things that we need to understand is exactly what is in the agreements that were reached between the United States and the Taliban to make sure that we fully understand the commitments that the Taliban has made as well as any commitments that we’ve made.

“And so we are taking that up,” he said adding: “And with regard to Ambassador Khalilzad, yes, we have – we have asked him to continue the vital work that he is performing.”

Reports emerged about four days ago that former president Donald Trump’s peace envoy for Afghanistan will retain his position, for now.

This move is not typical as traditionally an incoming administration replaces all politically appointed officials – especially those dealing with foreign policy issues.

Khalilzad, a diplomatic veteran, has worked on the peace process for more than two years and has been the key official from Washington to meet with both the Afghan government and the Taliban as well as all other stakeholders and regional leaders.

Blinken meanwhile also confirmed that the US would be looking into the reports of bounties placed by Russia on American forces in Afghanistan.