'Deeply challenging': NATO urges 'negotiated settlement' with Taliban

WION Web Team
Afghanistan Published: Jul 27, 2021, 03:44 PM(IST)

President Joe Biden had announced the last US troops will pull out by August 31 Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Taliban has made rapid advances in rural areas in Afghanistan seizing border checkpoints as US troops pull out of the region.

Pakistan reopened its southwestern border crossing with Afghanistan allowing goods to cross into the country as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged "negotiated settlement" with the Taliban amid heavy heavy fighting with Afghan troops.

Stoltenberg after speaking to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said: "The security situation in Afghanistan remains deeply challenging, and requires a negotiated settlement. NATO will continue to support Afghanistan, including with funding; civilian presence; and out-of-country training."

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Taliban has made deep inroads into western and northern regions mainly in the rural areas as US troops pull out of the region. 

The militant group has seized border crossings along the Pakistan border including with Iran and Tajikistan even as peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban remain inconclusive. 

President Joe Biden had announced the last US troops will pull out by August 31, reports say the bulk of NATO troops have already exited from the region.

Meanwhile, Pakistan said it had returned Afghan soldiers who had sought refuge in the country. At least 46 soldiers reportedly returned home through the Nawa Pass border crossing in Bajaur district.

The Afghan soldiers had lost control over key military checkpoints along the Pakistan border and had poured into the neighbouring country. They were provided safe passage into the country by Pakistan authorities after seeking refuge at the border crossing in Chitral in the north.

As the Taliban continues its offensive, US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said the Taliban's military momentum needs to be slowed down as it continues to gain territories even as US Marine General Kenneth McKenzie had said his forces will continue to provide further air support to Afghan troops against the Taliban.

However, it remains unclear whether the US will carry out airstrikes to support the Afghan troops beyond August 31 when the US military mission in Afghanistan comes to an end.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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