US defense chief urges international pressure amid rising violence in Afghanistan.
Says the people of Afghanistan deserve peace.
The statement from Lloyd Austin comes as Taliban claim control over 85% of Afghan territory.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called Friday for international pressure to force a deal between the Kabul government and therefore the Taliban to finish the conflict in Afghanistan.
“The security situation in Afghanistan only argues more for international pressure to possess a negotiated political settlement to finish this conflict, and provides the Afghan people (the) government they need and that they deserve,” Austin said during a tweet.
“The entire world can help by continuing this push.”
When I announced our drawdown in April, I said we would be out of Afghanistan by September. Our military mission in Afghanistan will in fact conclude on August 31st. And the drawdown is proceeding in a secure and orderly way, prioritizing the safety of our troops as they depart. pic.twitter.com/7U8Fb47gsd
— President Biden (@POTUS) July 9, 2021
Austin made the decision each day after US President Joe Biden announced that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, after nearly 20 years of war, would be completed by August 31.
The Pentagon chief didn’t specify which countries he was urging to assist secure a settlement, after a year of fruitless talks in Doha between the 2 sides.
But Pakistan is widely believed to possess significant influence over the Afghan Taliban.
And on Wednesday an Afghan government delegation met with Taliban representatives in Tehran, hosted by Iran’s secretary of state Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“Today the people and political leaders of Afghanistan must make difficult decisions for the longer term of their country,” Zarif said.
Zarif appealed to the fighters in Afghanistan to return to the negotiating table, calling “commitment to political solutions the simplest choice for Afghanistan’s leaders and political movements.”
Austin’s call comes because the Taliban, who were ousted from power in 2001 by the US-led invasion, have steadily gained ground against government forces during a tough offensive that has picked up pace because the US pullout nears completion.
Earlier Friday, they claimed that they had control of 85% of the country after seizing key border crossings with Iran and Turkmenistan.
The claim was disputed by the govt, saying they need forced the fighters from the northwestern capital of Qala-i-naw, the scene of tough fighting in the week .