The United States envoy on Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, “will press the Taliban to stop their military offensive” at talks in Qatar’s capital this week, the Department of State announced after the armed group seized a string of Afghan provincial capitals.
The department said in a statement on Monday that several planned rounds of meetings were scheduled over three days to discuss the situation in Afgh
“Ambassador Khalilzad will be in Doha to help formulate a joint international response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan,” the department added.
Attending the meetings will be governmental and organisational representatives from the region and beyond, who “will press for a reduction of violence and ceasefire and a commitment not to recognize a government imposed by force”, the statement continued.
On Monday, the Taliban announced that it had captured a sixth provincial capital in Afghanistan in four days.
The armed group’s spokesman claimed it had overrun Aybak, the capital of the northern province of Samangan.
‘It’s their struggle’
Amid the advance of the Taliban, the US is showing no signs of stepping up air attacks, with a Pentagon spokesman saying that Washington now sees the fight as one for Afghan political and military leaders to win or lose.
“When we look back, it’s going to come down to leadership and what leadership was demonstrated, or not,” by Afghans, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a news conference.
“It’s their country to defend now. It’s their struggle.”
US officials said military commanders have bluntly laid out their assessments that conditions in Afghanistan are deteriorating.
Afghan special operations forces have been able to hold off the Taliban in key centres, including Kandahar and Lashkar Gah, they said. But in locations where the commandos have not been sent in, regular army forces have been overrun.