Khalilzad briefs US members of congress

KABUL (TOLO News): The United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Thursday briefed members of the US Congress behind closed doors about of the specifics of the US-Taliban negotiations, and the circumstances that led to the scuttling of the deal by US President Donald Trump.

The US chief negotiator held nine rounds of talks with the Taliban in Doha and UAE in a year in which he finalized a deal “in principle” but the negotiations with the group were “dead” after US President Donald Trump’s tweet last month.

“We’ve learned that the president up-ended the deal and we have learned that the peace deal evidently is dead,” Representative Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said.

On Thursday, Alice Wells, acting assistant secretary of state, told the Foreign Affairs Committee that the US remains committed to the long-term stability of Afghanistan despite cuts in aid.

“We want to be able to signal … that we are committed to the long-term development of Afghanistan but not over-committed to the point where we are assuming unreasonable or even a counterproductive level of involvement,” Wells said.

This comes as the US announced it is withdrawing about $100 million earmarked for an Afghan energy project and would withhold another $60 million in planned assistance.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited corruption and Afghanistan’s “inability to transparently manage US government resources.”

Pompeo said in a statement that the US would complete the energy infrastructure project but would do so through another mechanism that does not involve giving the money directly to Afghan authorities.

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