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UN Security Council Condemns Taliban's Announcement Of Spring Offensive

Afghan security officials escort a group of suspected militants who are accused of planning attacks on government and security forces, after their arrest in Jalalabad on April 10.

The UN Security Council has condemned the Taliban's announcement of a spring offensive, saying in a unanimous statement that it will only "result in more unnecessary suffering and destruction for the Afghan people."

The Taliban launched its annual spring offensive on April 12, even as the UN lifted travel bans on 11 of their senior leaders to facilitate peace talks with the United States.

U.S. and Taliban negotiators have held several rounds of peace talks in Qatar and an Afghan delegation is expected to meet this week with the militants.

The Security Council "called on all parties to the conflict to seize the opportunity to begin an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations that result in a political settlement," in a April 15 statement.

The Taliban launched attacks near the northern city of Kunduz and in Kabul on April 13, hours after announcing the start of the spring offensive.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy who is spearheading Washington's push for a peace settlement, called the Taliban announcement "reckless."

The Taliban has long refused to speak officially with Kabul, calling the government a "puppet" of the West.

But the Taliban is expected to meet an Afghan delegation that will consist of government officials, opposition politicians, and civil society in the Qatari capital, Doha from April 19-21.

Based on reporting by AFP and Xinhua
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