US ‘should increase engagement’ with the Taliban to implement Doha Deal, says Khalilzad

Hailing the Taliban’s claim of killing second in command of the Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISKP), former US ambassador and facilitator of the US-Taliban Doha deal, Zalmay Khalilzad, has stressed on increasing engagement between the two sides to completely implement the deal.

“The US and Taliban should increase engagement to complete implementation of the Doha Agreement which serves Afghan and US interests,” Khalilzad said in tweet thread on Monday, adding that the Taliban had committed to fight the ISKP. “The removal of these ISIS leaders indicates that it is doing so,” he asserted about the Taliban’s claim.

Late on Sunday, the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) claimed that three senior ISKP commanders, including its second highest ranked person Malawi Ziauddin, were killed in the group’s nigh raids conducted on March 17 in Mazar-e-Sharif, capital of the northern Balkh province.

If confirmed, Khalilzad noted, this would be a “significant blow” to the ISKP in northern Afghanistan.

This comes as both, the United States and the Taliban, have reciprocally accused each other of violating the Doha deal signed in February 2020 after nearly two years of direct negotiations.

Khalilzad led the US negotiating team and is considered as the main facilitator of the US-Taliban agreement under Trump Administration. But now he is not part of the US government.

Contrary to Khalilzad’s comments, civil and security officials of the US government have repeatedly accused the Taliban of violating the Doha deal, by referring to the killing of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, and expansion of the ISKP’s presence in Afghanistan.

On March 16, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in the Middle East, General Michael Kurilla, warned that the ISKP could potentially launch attacks against American and Western interests within six months.