Congress committee subpoenas Trump envoy to Taliban talks

Zalmay Khalilzad

FILE – In this Feb. 8, 2019 file photo, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad speaks on the prospects for peace at the U.S. Institute of Peace, in Washington. Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders agreed they wanted a deal with the United States, but some among them were in more of a hurry than others. Even before U.S. President Donald Trump cancelled a mysterious Camp David summit on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, the Taliban negotiators were at odds with the council of leaders, or shura, that rules the Islamic movement. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday issued a subpoena to the Trump administration’s envoy to the U.S.-Taliban talks, demanding that he testify at an open congressional hearing next week.

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., complained that the Trump administration was keeping Congress and the American people “in the dark” about negotiations with the Taliban, which have broken down.

Engel issued the subpoena to compel Zalmay Khalilzad to testify Sept. 19. He said he issued the subpoena because the State Department had refused requests in February, April and earlier this month for briefings or testimony from Khalilzad.

The State Department had no immediate comment Thursday.

In a weekend tweet, Trump called off negotiations and canceled a meeting he said he wanted to have with Afghan government leaders and the Taliban at the Camp David presidential retreat.

“More than 2,000 American troops have died in Afghanistan, and I’m fed up with this administration keeping Congress and the American people in the dark on the peace process and how we’re going to bring this long war to a close,” Engel said in a statement.

“For months, we haven’t been able to get answers on the Afghanistan peace plan, and now the president is saying the plan is dead. We need to hear directly from the administration’s point person on Afghanistan to understand how this process went off the rails.”

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