US to appoint special envoy on Afghanistan to promote peace, reports say

KABUL (TCA) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to appoint Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-born former U.S. ambassador to Kabul, as his special envoy on Afghanistan, RFE/RL reported citing media reports of August 22.

The decision reported by Reuters and AP, citing anonymous U.S. officials, would send a signal that the United States is serious about engaging the Taliban and making progress in peace talks to end the longest U.S. war, media said.

U.S. military commanders recently have acknowledged little progress is being made on the battlefield or at the peace table despite a reported meeting last month between a U.S. diplomat and Taliban leaders to explore possible negotiations.

The White House and the State Department declined to comment on reports of Khalilzad’s expected appointment, and Khalilzad did not return messages left by reporters.

The outgoing U.S. commander in Afghanistan insisted on August 22 that despite a recent wave of violence, Trump’s strategy of an open-ended deployment of U.S special operations forces and increased air support for Afghan forces is succeeding.

“I believe the strategy is working… The reconciliation progress is significant and ultimately wars end with a political settlement,” said U.S. Army General John Nicholson, commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.

Trump, however, has expressed frustration that U.S. forces still seem so far from withdrawal after 17 years of war. In a policy shift during a June cease-fire, Washington said it would “support, facilitate, and participate” in any Kabul government-led peace talks with the Taliban.

Washington and Kabul both on August 22 said they would not join peace talks that Russia is hosting in Moscow on September 4, saying such talks were unlikely to yield progress. Russia claims that the Taliban will be joining the talks.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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