New York  -    Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib has accused US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad of “delegitimizing” the Kabul government by excluding it from peace negotiations with the Taliban and acting like a “viceroy”.

The comments made by Mohib about Khalilzad, , drew immediate and blistering rebuke from Washington, with the State Department saying that his remarks “only serve to hinder” US-Afghan ties and the peace process.

“Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale summoned Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib today to reject the public comments attributed to National Security Adviser Mohib criticizing the US approach to reconciliation,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Palladino said after the meeting between the two officials.

Hale reminded Mohib that Khalilzad represented Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “and that attacks on Ambassador Khalilzad are attacks on the department and only serve to hinder the bilateral relationship and the peace process,” Palladino said.

Speaking during a news conference at the Afghan Embassy in Washington, Mohib directed his attacks at Khalilzad’s conduct of peace talks with the Taliban.

“Knowing Ambassador Khalilzad’s history, his own personal history, he has ambitions in Afghanistan. He was wanting to run for president twice,” Mohib said.

“The perception in Afghanistan and people in government think that perhaps, perhaps all this talk is to create a caretaker government of which he will then become the viceroy.”

“We think either Zal, Ambassador Khalilzad, doesn’t know how to negotiate [or] there may be other reasons behind what he’s doing,” Mohib added. “The Taliban are in no mood to negotiate with the Afghan government, and there is no reason for them to do so. They’re gaining. Their sole aim and expectation and reasons in wanting to talk directly with the United States is to give themselves legitimacy.” “The reason he is delegitimizing the Afghan government and weakening it, and at the same time elevating the Taliban can only have one approach. It’s definitely not for peace.”