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PublishDate: Thursday, October 21, 2021 12:28

West’s appointment sends positive vibes to Afghans?

The appointment of Thomas West, a diplomat with long experience in dealing with Afghanistan and close aide to President Joe Biden, as special representative to Afghanistan is indicative of America’s interest in staying engaged with the war-torn country. a media report said on Thursday.

Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_West, who previously served as deputy special representative, replaces Zalmay Khalilzad who concluded the US-Taliban deal in February 2020 after two years of negotiations, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.

He has also served on then-Vice President Joe Biden’s national security team and on the National Security Council staff.

In a statement issued in Washington, Secretary of State Antony said West “will lead US diplomatic efforts, advise the secretary and assistant secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. He will coordinate closely with the US Embassy Kabul’s presence in on America’s interests in Afghanistan.”

The decision indicates the Biden administration’s desire to stay engaged with Afghanistan despite the withdrawal of all its troops from the country in August this year.

Additionally, West will work with Pakistan to persuade the Taliban to expand its government and include other religious and ethnic factions and political groups as well.

He will try to convince the Taliban to respect , reopen schools for girls and allow women to work.

Ambassador West will be required to ensure regular humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan while the Taliban and Pakistan may ask him to resume economic aid and unfreeze Afghanistan’s reserves in .

The administration seized the assets and severed economic ties with Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover in mid-August.

Noting that Khalilzad was stepping down from his role, Secretary Blinken extended his “gratitude for (Khalilzad’s) decades of service to the American people, and welcomed West to the role.

Khalilzad served as US special envoy for Afghan reconciliation under both the Trump and Biden administrations since September 2018, when then-secretary of state Mike brought him to lead negotiations with the Taliban and the Afghan government.

He also served as the US ambassador to Afghanistan from September 2004 to June 2005 and as ambassador to Iraq from June 2005 to March 2007. From April to January 2009, he was the US ambassador to the .

Khalilzad served as US special representative for Afghanistan for more than three years and negotiated the -Taliban deal in Doha, which ultimately led to the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan in August 2021.

He has been criticised for concluding a deal that critics say clearly favoured the Taliban and brought down the US-backed government in Kabul.

will step down this week. He said in his resignation letter that after leaving government service he would continue to work on behalf of the Afghan people.

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