- "I want to be clear: I do not consider your testimony at this hearing optional," Engel wrote.
- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is due to leave for the United States on Saturday to meet with President Donald Trump.
- Two days ago, two senior US diplomats in a joint statement warned against a hasty exit from Afghanistan.
The US Congress has called on Zalmay Khalilzad, the country’s special envoy for Afghan peace, to provide details of the deal with the Taliban. Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged Mr. Khalilzad to present details of the deal with the Taliban to Congress in a public hearing. The Democratic Party has a majority in the House of Representatives.
The letter says that Congress wants to make sure that the US signs a peace agreement in Afghanistan, not an agreement to withdraw. Engel has said Mr. Khalizad will be formally summoned if he refuses to provide information on a peace deal with the Taliban.
“I want to be clear: I do not consider your testimony at this hearing optional,” Engel wrote. “Your appearance before this committee in an open setting is essential to our ability to carry out our oversight responsibilities. If this letter is insufficient to secure your attendance, I will consider other options that would ensure this hearing takes place in a timely manner.” According to the letter, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has already invited Mr. Khalilzad twice to attend, but he has not attended any of those meetings.
Mr. Ghani Goes to Washington
Meanwhile, sources in the Afghan presidential palace said that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is due to leave for the United States on Saturday to meet with President Donald Trump. Sources said the two sides would discuss a peace deal with the Taliban and the Afghan election process.
Khalilzad said he was on the verge of a deal with the Taliban, after the end of the ninth round of talks. In a tweet August 31, he said the deal would “reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honorable & sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that does not threaten the United States, its allies, or any other country.”
Mr. Khalilzad traveled to Kabul after the latest round of talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar, and said in an interview with TOLOnews that the American delegation and the Taliban had reached a final agreement in principle, but the agreement must be approved by President Trump. According to reports, if Mr. Trump agrees to the terms of the agreement, 4,500 US troops will leave Afghanistan, and five of its bases will be dismantled.
The Taliban also wants an agreement to be signed by Mike Pompeo as US envoy. But a few days ago, Time Magazine, also in a separate report, quoted US, European and Afghan sources saying that the Secretary of State was unwilling to sign a peace deal with the Taliban. According to Time, one of Mr. Pompeo’s reasons for not signing the agreement is the grave danger of the Taliban’s failure to adhere to it.
Two days ago, two senior US diplomats in a joint statement warned against a hasty exit from Afghanistan. They said a hasty withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, before the Afghan government had reached a “real peace,” would lead the country to a “full-blown civil war.” The statement comes when the US-Taliban agreement is finalized and is due to be signed by both parties soon.