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Dems say Pompeo won't allow briefing by Khalilzad

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    Posted: 09-Apr-2019 at 12:39pm

Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to the State Department Monday that accused Secretary Mike Pompeo of blocking the agency's Afghanistan envoy from testifying in front of the panel.

Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee say Pompeo wont allow briefing by Trumps Afghan envoy

Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) led the panel's Democrats in the letter that repeated their call for Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, to brief the group on updates regarding U.S. efforts in the war-torn country. They accused the State Department of a "lack of transparency" over its efforts in Afghanistan and threatened to force Khalilzad to appear before the committee. 

"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," they wrote. 

"We urge you to immediately reverse your untenable position and commit to having Ambassador Khalilzad brief this committee within seven days of his return to the United States. 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 Trump administration is currently pursuing peace talks with the Taliban to end an 18-year war in Afghanistan and pull troops from the nation. The talks, led by Khalilzad, have produced an initial blueprint for an eventual agreement that could include the withdrawal of U.S. troops and a ceasefire in the country in return for the Taliban agreeing to not harbor terrorist organizations that could threaten U.S. security. 

During testimony in front of the House panel last month, Pompeo said he would not allow State Department officials to brief committee members on the negotiations, saying he was concerned classified information would be leaked. 

While President Trump has touted progress in the talks with the Taliban, bipartisan lawmakers have expressed skepticism about how much progress could be made with the armed group.

Khalilzad sought to allay concerns on Capitol Hill in February, saying that while the administration was hopeful for a resolution by July, the withdrawal of U.S. troops was "conditions-based." 

"A peace agreement can allow withdrawal, but it is not just a withdrawal agreement that we are seeking," he said. "As I've said publicly in my tweets before, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to."
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