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With Taliban surging in Afghanistan as US withdraws, Biden to pitch ‘diplomatic solution’

The Taliban continues its resurgence in Afghanistan as American forces withdraw from the country, but the Biden administration believes military action is neither necessary nor the best course of action to improve the situation on the ground.

President Biden is expected to address the status of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan Thursday afternoon, following a meeting on the subject with his national security team in the morning.

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“We are all concerned about the security situation on the ground,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Wednesday. “There’s no question about that, which is all the more reason why we continue to push for a negotiated, peaceful political settlement to this war. That’s really the way forward here.”

Kirby went on to say the administration’s long-held position is that “a military solution is not going to be in the best interest of the Afghan people or quite frankly, the region.”

In recent weeks the Taliban’s offensive has resulted in it taking control of several districts. On Wednesday, Afghan officials said Taliban fighters had entered Qala-e-Naw, the capital of the Badghis province in the northwest of the country.

An Afghan security police officer stands guard in the courtyard of Hazrat-e-Ali shrine or Blue Mosque, in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif province north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

“The enemy has entered the city, all the districts have fallen. The fighting has started inside the city,” Badghis Governor Hessamuddin Shams said, according to Al Jazeera.

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Provincial council member Zia Gul Habibi said Taliban fighters had made their way into the city’s police headquarters and an office belonging to Afghanistan’s spy agency. Habibi said that provincial council officials escaped to an army camp in the city as the fighting went on.

Critics of the administration believe that the withdrawal – which was originally set for May of this year by former President Trump and then pushed to September by Biden – is premature and putting the region at risk.

“They don’t want to admit that the decision President Biden made has put the Afghan government on the path to collapse, and it’s happening in a time frame they didn’t expect,” Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Washington Times.

“They’re spinning Afghanistan and trying to tell us that what we can all see happening isn’t happening,” Roggio said.

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The administration insists it is not abandoning Afghanistan or its people.

Kirby told Fox News that even after the U.S. pulls out, there will be continued assistance provided to Afghan forces. He said this will include financial, logistical, technical and aviation support.

“So we’re not turning our back on our Afghan partners,” he said.

Additionally, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that the U.S. will continue providing humanitarian and security assistance to the people of Afghanistan following the withdrawal.

“We intend to continue to have a diplomatic presence on the ground in Kabul even after we bring the servicemen and women home at the end of August,” Psaki said.

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Meanwhile, as the U.S. withdraws, Iran has emerged to host peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with representatives from both sides Wednesday. State-run media reported Zarif urged them to “take difficult decisions today for the future of their country.”

Zarif said Iran is ready to “resolve the current conflicts in the country” after the “failure of the U.S. in Afghanistan.” 

Fox News’ David Spunt and Kristina Biddle, and The Associated Press, contributed to this report.