President Joe Biden's administration has extended Zalmay Khalilzad’s mission as the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation for an unspecific period of time, US sources have told TOLOnews.
US sources added that the Biden administration has started the assessment of the US-Taliban peace deal signed between the two sides in Doha on February 29, particularly the (secret) annexes to the agreement.
The assessment will be wrapped up in three weeks' time, the sources said.
“The process became lengthy due to the shortcomings that it has, also what has been carried out by Khalilzad towards the discussions and agreements--all were carried out in a unilateral manner,” said Mohammad Ismail, a former jihadi commander.
“We believe that the US’s policy has been very wrong, they provided consecutive concessions to the Taliban over the past several months to reach their targets, their objectives were personal,” said Bahadur Aminian, the Iran ambassador to Kabul.
This comes a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that a new chapter has been opened in Kabul and Washington relations and that the United States sees Afghanistan fundamentally as a partner.
“A new chapter has been opened in our ties with our main partner the United States and it will continue,” President Ghani said at a cabinet meeting on Monday. “Our relations will be at the level of government-to-government.”
Ghani stressed that the United States is reviewing the agreement it signed with the Taliban, and, after a review, the US government will consult Kabul on finding a joint roadmap for the agreement.
“A quick review of the US’s deal with the Taliban will be done by the US National Security council and then a fundamental consultation will be done with us,” Ghani said.
On Friday, the United States National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with his Afghan counterpart NSA Hamdullah Mohib regarding the US commitment to the US-Afghan partnership and to peace for "all the people of Afghanistan," according to a statement by the US National Security Council.
The Afghan government has in the past reacted cautiously with the mission by Khalilzad.
Last month, Khalilzad during a trip to Kabul met various Afghan political leaders, but couldn’t meet Ghani.
“I think it would be better to let Khalilzad continue his mission and complete his work,” said Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hizb-e-Islami.
“The recognition that he has from the Afghan political parties--no politician has got that much recognition,” said political analyst Mirwais Ghiasi.
The Afghan peace negotiations that started on Sept. 12 last year have made progress in their procedural rules. They took a three-month break and resumed their talks on Jan. 6. However, the Afghan republic and the Taliban’s negotiators have not held any meetings over the last 13 days to discuss the agenda of the talks.
Experts said that the United States is expected to announce its stance on the Afghan peace process and the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan at the ministerial meeting of the alliance next month.