Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has planned several rounds of meetings over three days to press Taliban to stop their military offensive and to negotiate a political settlement, reports Asian Lite News
The State Department has said the increased tempo of Taliban military engagement in Afghanistan, resulting civilian casualties in armed conflict between the sides, and alleged human rights atrocities are of grave concern.
US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad left for Doha, where he helped formulate a joint international response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in the war-torn country.
In several planned rounds of meetings over three days, representatives from countries in the region and beyond as well as from multilateral organisations will press for a reduction of violence and ceasefire and a commitment not to recognize a government imposed by force.
He will press the Taliban to stop their military offensive and to negotiate a political settlement, which is the only path to stability and development in Afghanistan, the State Department said.
A negotiated peace is the only path to ending the war, and the US will continue to work with all parties and with regional and international stakeholders to advance a consensus on a political settlement.
Doha will host international meetings on the Afghanistan peace process from Tuesday to Friday.
The meetings are said to be attended by US, China, Pakistan, Russia, representatives from the N, and other mediators of the intra-Afghan talks.
Head of High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah and State minister in peace affairs Syed Saadat Mansoor Naderi have also arrived in Doha on behalf of the Kabul government.
US to continue to support Afghan forces
As the security situation is deteriorating in Afghanistan amid intense fighting between the Taliban and government forces, the Pentagon has said that the US military will continue to support troops in the war-torn country.
Addressing a briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that the security situation in Afghanistan “is clearly not going in the right direction”.
“We will continue to support them with the authorities we have, where and when feasible, understanding that it’s not always going to be feasible,” he said.
“But where and when feasible, we will continue to support them with airstrikes, for instance.”
He noted that the Afghan forces have the capability and advantages in combat with the Taliban, stressing the need for Kabul to exert both political and military leadership.
Kirby declined to speculate if the US military will continue to provide air support for Afghan forces beyond August 31, the date that President Joe Biden had ordered the American military to end its mission in Afghanistan.
The US military conducted airstrikes against Taliban militants in recent days as the militant group has made rapid advances and claimed to have captured six provincial capitals after heavy clashes.
Many Afghan cities and about half of the country’s 34 provinces have seen heavy battles and street fighting in recent weeks as Taliban militants continued fighting against security forces.
Given the deteriorating security situation, the US Embassy in Kabul on on August 7 urged all Americans to leave the country immediately via available commercial flights.