WASHINGTON— The Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives in a letter has called for a briefing by the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who left Kabul on Sunday after a series of talks with Afghan leaders, politicians, and civil society members.
“Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today led all the Democratic members of the Committee in calling for a briefing by the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad,” the House said in a statement on Monday, April 8.
In this letter sent to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the members decried the Secretary’s “unwillingness” to allow Ambassador Khalilzad to brief Committee members, including during his March testimony before the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“As we know you appreciate from your service in Congress, the Committee has the right to such information, and we are prepared to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that we are able to conduct our constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities,” the members wrote.
According to the members, they had a similar request from the US Secretary of State on February 26 request —to which the Department has not responded.
The members have requested Khalilzad to brief Committee members on the US diplomatic strategy for Afghanistan reconciliation.
The members also wrote that “the State Department’s lack of transparency with Congress on a foreign policy issue of this magnitude is unacceptable and hinders this body’s constitutional oversight responsibilities”.
The members wrote that refusal by the US Department of State to allow Khalilzad to brief the Committee is “perplexing” considering the fact that the US Envoy “has engaged in a number of on-the-record interactions”.
The members have urged the US State Department to commit to having Ambassador Khalilzad brief the committee within seven days of his return to the United States.
According to the US Embassy in Kabul, Khalilzad had a “productive” meeting with President Ashraf Ghani before he left the country on Sunday.
While in Kabul, he held talks with representatives of different layers of the society and heard their views on the Afghan peace process which has seen some developments in recent months.