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Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, speaking at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security. Source: Reuters/Michael Brochstein.
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  • The US is sending a special representative to Qatar to help devise an international response to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan
  • The State Department says he will push for the Taliban to stop their offensive and negotiate a political settlement
  • Since August 6, the Taliban has taken control of another six provincial capitals
  • The US has been withdrawing troops from Afghanistan after two decades on the ground, despite concerns of an “inevitable” takeover by the Taliban
  • The Trump administration made a deal directly with the Taliban for the withdrawal of troops which was upheld by the Biden administration

The US has sent Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to Qatar to help devise an international response to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

The State Department said in a statement meetings were planned over three days and would include representatives from regional countries and multilateral organisations.

It also said Ambassador Khalilzad would “push for the Taliban to stop their offensive and negotiate a political settlement, which is the only path to stability and development in Afghanistan”.

Since August 6, the Taliban has taken control of another six provincial capitals, five of which are in the north of the country.

The map below, compiled by the Long War Journal which is a project of the policy institute Foundation for Defence of Democracies, shows in red the districts of Afghanistan now under Taliban control.

The US has been withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and President Biden has set September 11, 2021, as the deadline for full withdrawal.

In February 2020, the Trump administration made a deal directly with the Taliban, which was followed through on by the Biden administration.

The agreement outlined the withdrawal of US and allied troops, in exchange for the Taliban ensuring none of its members or other groups such as al-Qa’ida would threaten the US from Afghan soil.

When addressing concerns last month around the US withdrawal of troops after two decades on the ground, President Biden said the “status quo was not an option”. He also denied an “inevitable” takeover by the Taliban in the vacuum that would remain.

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