Sep 3, 2019

Taliban claims Kabul blast as U.S. envoy outlines landmark Afghan deal

Smoke rises from the site of an attack on Tuesday after a massive explosion the night before near the Green Village in Kabul. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed at least 5 people and wounded 50 more in Kabul Monday, as President Trump's special envoy for Afghanistan visited the capital to draft a landmark peace accord, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The powerful car bomb explosion occurred as United States envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was telling the Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews that the U.S. and the Taliban had struck an "in principle" agreement that would see 5,400 troops leave Afghanistan, in the first sign of a breakthrough in peace talks between the 2 sides.

The big picture: Per Reuters, Khalilzad was in Kabul to brief Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the draft peace accord reached with the Taliban, which must be approved by President Trump. Trump's administration wants to move quickly toward a deal to end the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan.

  • In exchange for the U.S. pulling out of Afghanistan, the Taliban would agree not to allow the country to be used as a base for attacks on the U.S. and its allies by militant groups including Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, or ISIS, Reuters notes.

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House panel subpoenas U.S. Afghanistan envoy in probe of failed peace talks

Zalmay Khalilzad. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

The House Foreign Affairs Committee subpoenaed U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on Thursday, ordering him to testify about how months-long peace talks with the Taliban “went off the rails," Politico reports.

Why it matters: This is the committee's first subpoena of the 116th Congress, and it highlights a lack of information from the State Department on the Trump administration's Afghanistan peace plan, according to statements from Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

Go deeperArrowSep 13, 2019

Trump: I called off secret meeting with Taliban in U.S. over Kabul blast

President Trump at the White House, Sept. 4. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Saturday night that he's called off a secret meeting with Taliban leaders planned for Sunday at Camp David after a bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan.

"Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations."
Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 8, 2019

Pompeo defends Trump inviting Taliban to Camp David for peace talks

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday responded to backlash over the news that President Trump had invited the Taliban to Camp David for secret Afghanistan peace talks, arguing on ABC News' "This Week": "If you're going to negotiate peace, you often have to deal with some pretty bad actors."

Go deeperArrowSep 8, 2019