On February 28, Sunday, the US State Department announced that Zalmay Khalilzad, the Special Envoy on the Afghan peace process, and his team will visit Afghanistan and Qatar to resume negotiations with government officials and representatives of the Taliban. The date of the visit was not specified in the statement. Envoy Khalilzad will also visit other regional states whose interests depend on reaching a comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan, the State Department added.
The visit came a year after the previous administration under former President Donald Trump and the Taliban inked an agreement in Qatar. With this agreement, the United States agreed to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan. In return, the Taliban pledged to stop providing support for al-Qaeda terrorists, and starting taking part in a peace process with the Afghan government.
Recently, the Taliban issued a statement upon the anniversary of the Doha Accord, stating that the group has complied with articles of the agreement. In the statement, the call for the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan was reiterated. Also, the Taliban demanded its leaders’ removal from a UN blacklist.
Currently, it is estimated that there are approximately 2,500 US military personnel in Afghanistan along with 10,000 NATO personnel. The Biden administration has taken the Doha Agreement under review, as a usual procedure. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the complete withdrawal of US troops is based on achieving progress in intra-Afghan peace talks. Also, he said the US administration will not take any step that endangers NATO forces in the country.
The US presence in Afghanistan started in 2001 when the former invaded the latter. The conflict in the country is known as the US’ longest-running war.