The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad will lead an interagency delegation to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia from October 4-14, according to a US Department of Stateís statement released on Wednesday.
Khalilzadís mission is to coordinate and lead US efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, the statement said, adding that "He will do so in close coordination with the Afghan government and other stakeholders, exploring how best to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict."
The trip is his first visit following his appointment as Special Representative and reflects the Administrationís intent to support, facilitate, and participate in a peace process in Afghanistan.
After announcing Khalilzadís appointment, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a memo: "There is no one better suited for this duty than an expert diplomat like ambassador Khalilzad, who was born and raised in Afghanistan, and has previously served as the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations."
Pompeo said he was confident in Khalilzadís ability to execute the mission.
"I am confident in Ambassador Khalilzadís ability to execute this mission, and we are grateful for his willingness to step back into public service. As we welcome him back to the Department, let us rededicate ourselves to achieving a durable peace in Afghanistan that will ensure security for the American people. This goal is realistic. We have a team in place to accomplish it. Letís get the job done," said Pompeo in the memo.
Although the US State Department had a special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the position was done away with last year. Duties now fall under United States Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells.
Reuters reported recently that the diplomat is well suited to the difficult task of persuading the insurgents to talk, according to a former senior US official, who asked not to be further identified.
In addition to his experience advising or working for four US. administrations and his knowledge of Afghanistanís main languages, culture and politics, he is close to President Ashraf Ghani, the former official said.