UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on Taliban insurgents to immediately halt their offensive in Afghanistan.
Guterres told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday that seizing power through military force can only lead to prolonged civil war, or to the complete isolation of Afghanistan.
He noted the fighting has forced at least 241,000 people to flee their homes, and that food and medical supplies are dwindling. He pointed out the conflict is taking an even bigger toll on women and children.
The UN chief also underscored hopes for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, supported by the regional and international community. He said, "Only an Afghan-led political settlement can ensure peace."
Guterres stressed that the UN is determined to contribute to such a settlement and provide humanitarian help to Afghan civilians in need.