Top diplomat Antony Blinken, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani pledge ‘to remain in close contact going forward’: State Dept.
WASHINGTON (AA) – Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the US’ “enduring” commitment to the Afghan government on Tuesday as the Taliban presses its offensive against security forces ahead of a complete withdrawal of American troops.
During a bilateral telephone call with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the leaders “condemned the ongoing Taliban attacks, which show little regard for human life and human rights, and deplored the loss of innocent Afghan lives and displacement of the civilian population,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Blinken and Ghani “emphasized the need to accelerate peace negotiations and achieve a political settlement that is inclusive, respects the rights of all Afghans, including women and minorities, allows the Afghan people to have a say in choosing their leaders, and prevents Afghan soil from being used to threaten the United States and its allies and partner,” he said.
“Secretary Blinken and President Ghani pledged to remain in close contact going forward,” added Price.
The call comes as the Taliban press their offensive against government forces in Herat, Lashkargah and Kandahar, prompting the UN to raise alarm about mounting civilian casualties in the war-ravaged country.
After overrunning nearly 200 rural districts, the Taliban began assaults on major cities on Friday as they marched on Herat near the border with Iran, causing panic and anxiety in the country’s third-biggest city, home to an estimated 500,000.
US President Joe Biden ordered the full withdrawal of American forces in Afghanistan in a process that is expected to be completed by month’s end, drawing to a close the longest war in American history.