َUNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations Security Council condemned the Taliban Monday (April 15) for announcing a spring offensive and called on all parties to instead "seize the opportunity" to begin talks.
In a unanimous statement, the council said the Taliban's announcement will "only result in more unnecessary suffering and destruction for the Afghan people."
The Taliban launched attacks near Kunduz and in Kabul Saturday (April 13), hours after announcing the start of the spring offensive.
At least nine people were killed and scores wounded in the fighting, according to Afghan officials.
Waging war despite peace talks
The bloodshed came as the United States pushes for a peace settlement with the Taliban, and ahead of a new round of talks expected to take place in Qatar later this month.
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," it said in the statement.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who has held several rounds of talks with the Taliban in hopes of reaching a peace deal, called the announcement of the spring offensive "reckless" and "irresponsible".
"The Taliban's spring offensive announcement is reckless. It is irresponsible to suggest that an increase in violence is warranted because the government announced a security plan. The Afghan people have clearly voiced their desire for peace," Khalilzad tweeted April 12.
"Through this announcement, Taliban leaders demonstrate their indifference to the demands of Afghans across the country. The call for more fighting will not advance peace efforts," he said.
"If executed, it will only yield more suffering and thousands more casualties," he added.