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White House pins hope on diplomacy as Taliban advance in Afghanistan

By Jake Thomas
White House pins hope on diplomacy as Taliban advance in Afghanistan
Armed Afghan security officials stand guard at a checkpoint in Pul-e Malan area of Guzara district, in Herat, Afghanistan, on July 30. File Photo by Jalil Rezayee/EPA-EFE

Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar called for international sanctions to be reimposed on Taliban leaders in an interview published Tuesday, as the militants continued to advance in the wake of U.S. troop withdrawal.

"The world community should come together to stop Taliban attacks on cities," Atmar told The Wall Street Journal. "This is a threat to international peace and security, not just a threat to Afghanistan."

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Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden has dispatched a diplomatic envoy to Afghanistan in hopes of negotiating a political settlement.

U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad departed on Sunday for Doha, the capital of Qatar, where he will meet with representatives from Afghanistan's neighboring countries and the Taliban to press them to drop their military offensive, a U.S. State Department press release said.

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The release, issued Monday, acknowledged the country's "rapidly deteriorating situation" and said a "negotiated peace is the only path to ending the war."

On Tuesday, Taliban militants effectively had control over eight of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals, The New York Times reported.

In less than a week, the Taliban took over Farah city, located in the country's west, and Pul-i-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan Province in the north. Control of both cities moves the Taliban closer to seizing the capital of Kabul, the Times reported. The Biden administration has signaled it's moving ahead with the planned withdrawal of U.S. military forces, ABC News reported. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday that the United States will provide air support but said it's "no substitute" for the country's political leadership stepping up.

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The Taliban want to take the "lion's share of power" in a future government, Khalilzad said last week. But he said there is still room for a diplomatic solution if there is united international opposition to the Taliban's offensive.

RELATED Taliban assassinates Afghan media chief, takes control of southwest capital

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