US House Committee Subpoenas Khalilzad On Taliban Talks

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives on Thursday issued a subpoena to the Trump administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, demanding he appear before the panel next week to explain the “failure” of the US-Taliban talks, US media reported.

Rep. Eliot Engel of New York accused the Trump administration of keeping Congress and the American people “in the dark” about the negotiations, which are aimed at opening the way to the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan after 18 years of war.

The subpoena reflects growing frustration in Congress on both sides of the aisle about the administration’s reluctance to discuss the negotiations at an open hearing or in private, NBC News reported.

Mr. Khalilzad held nine rounds of talks with the Taliban in Doha and UAE in nearly one year. He has briefed US lawmakers on the talks only once.

Mr. Engel said the subpoena requires Khalilzad to testify before the House committee on Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. “sharp”.

“More than 2,000 American troops have died in Afghanistan, and I’m fed up with this Administration keeping Congress and the American people in the dark on the peace process and how we’re going to bring this long war to a close,” Engel said in a statement.

“For months, we haven’t been able to get answers on the Afghanistan peace plan, and now the President is saying the plan is dead,” Engel added. “We need to hear directly from the Administration’s point person on Afghanistan to understand how this process went off the rails.”

Mr. Engel said the State Department declined requests from his committee in February, April and earlier this month.

This comes as US President Donald Trump earlier this month called off negotiations with the Taliban during which Mr. Khalilzad “agreed in principle” on a deal with the Taliban which would allow a gradual withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.

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