US envoy Khalilzad condemns Taliban 'reckless' offensive announcement

Zalmay Khalilzad called on Qatar and Pakistan to also condemn the action

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 8, 2019, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad participates in a discussion on "The Prospects for Peace in Afghanistan" at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC
 US and Taliban negotiators wrapped up their latest round of marathon peace talks on March 12, 2019,  with "real strides" made but no agreement on a timetable for troop withdrawal, Khalilzad said. / AFP / Jim WATSON
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US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad expressed dismay on Friday over the Taliban's latest announcement of a Spring offensive.

In a series of tweets, Mr Khalilzad called the announcement “reckless” and described it as “irresponsible to suggest that an increase in violence is warranted because the government announced a security plan.”

The Taliban announced Friday the start of their spring offensive despite talking peace with the United States and ahead of a significant gathering of Afghans meant to discuss resolutions to the protracted war and an eventual withdrawal of American troops from the country.

The insurgents released a lengthy missive in five languages, including English, saying the fighting would continue while foreign forces remain in Afghanistan. It  is something the militant group does every year, even though Taliban attacks never really ceased during the harsh winter months.

The announcement “demonstrates their indifference to the demands of Afghans across the country," said Mr Khalilzad.

“The call for more fighting will not advance peace efforts. If executed, it will only yield more suffering and thousands more causalities,” the US envoy said.

He added that some members of the group “including fighters and some leaders oppose this announcement.” After condemning the announcement, Mr Khalilzad “Pakistan, Qatar, and other nations that want peace in Afghanistan to do the same.”

The US envoy held direct talks with Taliban last March in Doha that lasted 13 days. The US is hoping to seal a draft agreement on counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire, before Afghan voters go to the polls in July.