Aug 10, 2021 - World

U.S. sends Afghanistan envoy to Qatar to press Taliban to end offensive

Special Representative on Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad  during a May hearing on Capitol Hill

Zalmay Khalilzad , special representative on Afghanistan reconciliation, during a May congressional hearing on Capitol Hill. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad will "press the Taliban to stop their military offensive and to negotiate a political settlement" during talks in Qatar's capital, Doha, this week, the State Department said.

Why it matters: As the Biden administration prepares to fully withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan on Aug. 31, the Taliban has seized six provincial capitals in the country. The Pentagon said Monday it's up to the Afghan government to defend these cities.

What to expect: Khalilzad will meet with the Taliban and representatives from government and multilateral organizations for three days of talks, per a statement from the State Department on Monday confirming his departure for Doha a day earlier.

  • He will "help formulate a joint international response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan" and push for "a reduction of violence and ceasefire and a commitment not to recognize a government imposed by force."
  • The State Department did not disclose details on what days the talks would take place this week.
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