Kabul [Afghanistan], July 25 (ANI): Amid escalated fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday said the Afghan security forces' primary job is to make sure they could slow the Taliban's momentum before attempting to retake territory.

"They are consolidating their forces around the key population centres," Austin told reporters during a visit to Alaska, reported Tolo News, citing UK news agency.

"In terms of whether or not it will stop the Taliban, I think the first thing to do is to make sure that they can slow the momentum," he said, adding that he believed the Afghans had the capability and the capacity to make progress, but "we will see what happens."

This comes as US President Joe Biden has promised to provide financial aid to Afghan forces and to redouble diplomatic efforts to revive stalled peace talks, reported Tolo News.

Biden on Friday authorised up to USD 100 million from an emergency fund to meet "unexpected urgent" refugee needs stemming from the situation in Afghanistan, including for Afghan special immigration visa applicants.

In a statement, the White House stated that Biden and his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani discussed the situation in Afghanistan and reaffirmed their commitment to an enduring bilateral partnership.

The US also has called on the Taliban "to engage in serious negotiations" after the group's insistence that they will not agree on ceasefire and peace unless there is an agreement on a new government in Afghanistan, reported Tolo News.

"We call on the Taliban to engage in serious negotiations to determine a political roadmap for Afghanistan's future that leads to a just and durable settlement," US State Department's deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said.

"A negotiated settlement between the Islamic Republic and the Taliban is the only way to end 40 years of war and bring Afghans to peace that they seek and deserve," she added.

On Friday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) had said Taliban forces that have taken control of districts in Kandahar have detained hundreds of residents whom they accuse of association with the government. The Taliban have reportedly killed some detainees, including relatives of provincial government officials and members of the police and army. (ANI)

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