US top envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad resigned from his position on Monday. “As Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad steps down from his role, I extend my gratitude for his decades of service to the American people,” US Secretary of the State Antony Blinken said in a statement. This came after Khalilzad wrote a resignation letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informing him about stepping down from the post, The New York Times reported.
Thomas West, who previously served as the Deputy Special Representative will be the Special Representative for Afghanistan after Khalilzad, Blinken informed. “West, who served on then-Vice President Biden’s national security team and on the National Security Council staff, will lead diplomatic efforts, advise the Secretary and Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, and coordinate closely with the US Embassy Kabul presence in Doha on America’s interests in Afghanistan,” the US Secretary said. He added, “I thank Ambassador Khalilzad for his service and welcome Special Representative West to the role.”
Khalilzad, who was born in Afghanistan and grew up in the capital, Kabul, was a veteran of past Republican administrations who helped President George W Bush plan the overthrow of the Taliban in 2002, The New York Times reported. The developments came almost two months after the US withdrew from Afghanistan in a ‘chaotic and deadly’ evacuation process, CNN reported. Khalilzad was the person who led talks with the Taliban in Qatar that resulted in the Doha agreement between the Islamic group and former US President Donald Trump to fully withdraw US troops by May 2021. The last two US officials to step off Afghanistan soil and onto a US military aircraft were General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, and the top US diplomat in Kabul, Charge d’Affaires Ross Wilson, reported CNN.