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Eliot Engel withdraws subpoena of Zalmay Khalilzad

President Trump’s lead negotiator with in the failed peace talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban militants will not appear publicly before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday, as planned, but will instead provide a classified briefing to panel members.

Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, New York Democrat, announced late Thursday that he has withdrawn his subpoena of veteran diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad that was issued last week after “numerous requests” made to the State Department to be briefed on negotiations were ignored.

Mr. Engel said that while he “would have preferred to hear from Ambassador Khalilzad in an open setting, I’m glad our members will have this long-overdue opportunity to press for answers on the peace plan.”

Mr. Khalilzad after a year of talks reached an agreement “in principle” to begin pulling U.S. troops out of the country’s longest war, in exchange for a Taliban pledge not to allow terror groups such as Islamic State and al Qaeda to set up again in the country and to begin talks with the U.S.-backed elected government in Kabul.

But President Trump earlier this month said he had canceled a secret Camp David meeting with the Taliban and the president of the U.S.-backed Afghan government in Kabul, claiming the talks were “dead” after a Taliban terror bombing in Kabul killed an American soldier and a dozen other people.

There has been renewed fighting and multiple deadly Taliban terror attacks in the days since the talks were called off.

The committee will continue its Thursday hearing on the Trump administration’s plans for the 18-year U.S. war in Afghanistan, but it will commence without Mr. Khalilzad’s public presence.

“It shouldn’t have taken a subpoena to get the State Department to work with this committee and allow us to perform our oversight duties,” Mr. Engel said.

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