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Blinken: Reports of Taliban attacks on Afghan civilians 'deeply, deeply troubling'
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the reports of attacks on Afghani citizens by the Taliban are "deeply, deeply troubling."
"We've also seen these reports of atrocities committed by the Taliban in areas that it's taken over that are deeply, deeply troubling, and certainly do not speak well to the Taliban's intentions for the country as a whole," Blinken said at a joint press conference with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar during a trip to India.
Blinken added that the U.S. remains "very much engaged in Afghanistan in support of the government" through a number of forms of assistance, including for the security forces, in addition to "diplomacy that we're engaged in to try to bring the parties together in a meaningful way to resolve the conflict peacefully."
He continued, telling reporters that an Afghanistan that "does not respect the rights of its people" and "commits atrocities against its own people" would, in turn, become a "pariah state."
"The Taliban says that it seeks international recognition, that it wants international support for Afghanistan. Presumably it wants its leaders to be able to travel freely in the world, sanctions lifted, et cetera. Well, the - taking over the country by force and abusing the rights of its people is not the path to achieve those objectives," Blinken added.
He emphasized that the "only path" forward is meeting at the negotiating table "to resolve the conflict peacefully and to have an Afghanistan emerge that is governed in a genuinely inclusive way and that's representative of all its people."
Blinken's comments come as the U.S. nears the end of its mission to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan.
President Biden announced in April that he would pull all troops from the region by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that led to America's longest war, before moving up that timeline to Aug. 31.
Concerns, however, are growing regarding the stability of the Afghani government once U.S. forces leave, especially as the Taliban continues to make gains in the region.
The United Nations reported this week that civilian deaths have been on the rise in recent weeks, with the number of people killed in May and June on par with the casualties suffered in the previous four months, according to Reuters. That data did not include deaths from July, when conflict further escalated.
The insurgent group has claimed that it will treat civilians well and not allow Afghanistan to be used as a center for international terrorism if they are thrown back into power, according to Reuters.
Peace talks have largely stalled between the Afghani government and the Taliban, according to Reuters. The Taliban are reportedly showing little interest in talks while they are seizing areas.