U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored the American commitment to Afghanistan Tuesday during a call with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
According to State Department spokesman Ned Price, they discussed the need to “accelerate peace negotiations” and achieve an “inclusive” political settlement that 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 partners.
Both leaders condemned recent Taliban attacks that have seen the group make strategic gains, including capturing nine of 10 districts in Helmand province.
On Tuesday Afghan forces, backed by the U.S., launched airstrikes on the Taliban to stave off the capture of the city Lashkar Gah. Should the city fall, it would be the first provincial capital to be taken over by the Taliban in years.
In recent weeks, the Taliban have also captured key border crossings with Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan. The provincial capitals of Kandahar and Herat provinces are also reportedly under siege.
U.S. and NATO forces have completed more than 95% of their troop withdrawals, with 100% expected to be reached by Aug. 31.
The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, told a security forum that neither side to the conflict can win militarily.