WASHINGTON: The United States responded on Wednesday to an Afghan Taliban threat to resume their spring offensive by re-emphasising the need for continuing the peace process.
“This conflict is not going to be resolved on the battlefield,” said US State Department spokesman Mark Toner while responding to the Taliban’s threat.
The Taliban announced earlier this week that they were going to launch a spring offensive and promised large-scale attacks across Afghanistan.
The US official told a news briefing that the announcement came as no surprise to them as the Taliban always made such declarations before the spring fighting season.
“This pledge to begin the spring fighting season just underscores the need for the start of a peace process, and a peace process that’s Afghan-led and Afghan-owned,” Mr Toner said. “That was a central message of the Secretary (of State) when he visited there this past week.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry made an unannounced visit to Kabul last week where he urged President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah to set aside their differences and work together, as not doing so could paralyse the country.
Later, the Taliban announced that Secretary Kerry was the target of a rocket that struck the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday night. The attack came within an hour after Mr Kerry had left Afghanistan.
Asked if these attacks indicated that the Afghan peace process had met a dead-end, Mr Toner said the Taliban had undergone some leadership changes and that’s why they had been unresponsive to this effort to get these peace talks going.
“That only underscores, frankly, the urgency going forward,” he added. “The ball is in their respective court. The government of Afghanistan has said it would be ready to hold these peace talks.”
Asked if the spring offensive would cause the United States to step up its assistance to the Afghan government, Mr Toner said: “We are preparing, as we have been, to assist the government in defending against the Taliban. Working through… coalition forces, we have been working with Afghan forces on the ground to improve their capability, their ability to fight and push back.”
Courtesy : Dawn News