WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a phone conversation agreed that the current offensive by the Taliban (banned in Russia) contradicts their claims to support peace talks, the White House said in a readout.

“President Biden and President Ghani agreed that the Taliban’s current offensive is in direct contradiction to the movement’s claim to support a negotiated settlement of the conflict,” the release said on Friday. “They deplored the loss of innocent Afghan lives, including through continued targeted killings, as well as displacement of the civilian population, looting and burning of buildings, destruction of vital infrastructure, and damage to communication networks.”

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley said on Wednesday that about half of the 419 district centers in Afghanistan are under Taliban control, but they have not taken over any of the 34 provincial capitals in the country.

(Agencies)