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On Sunday, U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad traveled to Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, for “several planned rounds of meeting” to “help formulate a joint international response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan,” the State Department said.
In the three days of meetings with representatives from countries “in the region and beyond as well as from multilateral organizations,” Khalilzad will press for “a reduction of violence and ceasefire and a commitment not to recognize a government imposed by force,” and will urge the “Taliban to stop their military offensive.”
The State Department described a possible “political settlement” as “the only path to stability and development in Afghanistan," even though these meetings come at a time of “increased tempo of Taliban military engagement.”
The militant group has captured five out of 34 provincial capitals in Afghanistan in less than a week, and there are several battles happening in others, according to the Associated Press.
The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has claimed the Taliban's military offensive is "contradict[ory to] its claim to support a negotiated settlement," and issued a directive urging U.S. citizens to leave the country "immediately."
With the United States about three weeks away from the complete withdrawal of troops of Afghanistan, there is “not much” the U.S. military can do to help, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Monday. He also placed some blame on the Afghan troops who both outnumber the Taliban and have more sophisticated technology.
“The secretary shares the concern of the international community about the security situation in Afghanistan, which is clearly not going in the right direction,” Kirby said of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, adding, "They have an air force, the Taliban doesn't. They have modern weaponry and organizational skills; the Taliban doesn't. They have superior numbers to the Taliban."
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Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: US peace envoy pushes to isolate Taliban should they take power by force