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Khalilzad on Regional Tour to Bring Amendments to Taliban Peace Deal

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KABUL: The US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad is in a fresh regional visit with the aim of bringing amendments to the peace agreement he signed with Taliban in 2020, a member of US House of Representatives said on Tuesday.

Mike McCaul, deputy of the House’s Committee of Foreign Affairs, said Tuesday that that convincing Taliban to agree on the US longer presence and reducing violence are parts of Khalilzad’s mission.

The United States is planned to end its military presence in the war-hit country by withdrawing all its soldiers by May, according to the peace agreement signed by former president Donald Trump with the insurgent group.

But Trump’s successor Joe Biden doesn’t seem interested in following his predecessor’s path as he said in February to have a review in the Taliban agreement. Biden accuses Taliban of maintaining relations with al-Qaeda and not reducing violence despite the group has stopped attacks on foreign troops for more than one year.

McCaul asked the Taliban to abandon “killings” for making progress in the peace efforts and cut relations with al-Qaeda.

He rejected troop withdrawal in May, saying that they need to get sure Taliban do not hold ties with international terrorist groups for the pullout.

McCaul accused Russia, China and Pakistan of helping Taliban get the power, saying this would cause Moscow, Beijing and Islamabad’s authority in the region.

He called power centralization in Afghanistan’s presidential palace as a major challenge since the US invasion of the country in 2001.

McCaul suggested decentralization of power in Afghanistan, saying that power should be divided with the provinces.

Khalilzad was in Kabul on Monday where he met President Ghani and some other government officials and politicians. He is scheduled to fly to Qatar to meet Taliban leaders.

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