Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, is returning to Qatar for Afghan peace negotiations in the hopes of finding a political settlement, the US State Department announced on Saturday.
“In his travel, Ambassador Khalilzad will continue to engage in determined diplomacy and the pursuit of a peace agreement between the Islamic Republic and the Taliban. As part of the United States’ ongoing support of the peace process, he will work with all parties and with regional and international stakeholders to further advance a consensus on a political settlement,” the statement expressed.
Khalilzad left the US on July 9 and is scheduled to visit Pakistan and Uzbekistan, where he will participate in an international conference on regional connectivity organized by the Uzbek government.
The visit by the US diplomat comes at a critical moment, as the US prepares to remove its soldiers from Afghanistan after two decades, raising security worries in the nation as the Taliban gains territory.
“America’s military engagement in Afghanistan is coming to an end. Our commitment to Afghanistan is not. We will work vigorously with all Afghan parties and regional and international stakeholders to try and help the sides find a path to ending this war,” Khalilzad tweeted on July 10.
Also, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday to discuss the recent events in Afghanistan.
“Spoke today with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani about Qatar’s support for Afghanistan peace negotiations and its role in advancing peace and security in the region,” Blinken tweeted after the call.
Qatar has been assisting the Afghan peace process since September of last year, but little tangible progress has been made since then, with tensions in the country continuing to increase.