US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, during a press briefing on Thursday night, called the violence of the last couple of days "unacceptable," but he said that the US would continue to push the peace process forward. He mentioned the need to discuss the prisoner releases and said that US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was in Kabul at the moment, to move things along.
The point is to get Afghans "together," said Pompeo, and he urged Afghans not "squander" this opportunity.
Along with the violence, Pompeo was also critical of the "posturing" of all sides that was preventing steps from being taken towards the intra-Afghan talks, as laid out by the US-Taliban Agreement signed in Doha on Saturday, and mentioned in the Afghan-US declaration announced in Kabul on the same day.
In explaining the posturing, Pompeo said "both sides think they have leverage," but he urged the warring parties to not only consider "narrow interests" but the interests of "all Afghan people."
Pompeo said the US will continue to "press all sides to stop posturing" and to "start a practical discussion about prisoner releases--knuckle-down and prepare for upcoming intra-Afghan negotiations."
He mentioned that he has seen senior Taliban leadership working hard in past incidents to reduce violence, and mentioned the recent calls between President Trump and Mullah Baradar, the deputy leader of the Taliban.
"Violence must be reduced immediately for the peace process to move forward," said Pompeo, but despite the recent setbacks the US is undeterred:
"We note that the road ahead will be difficult. We expected it. We were right," he said. "The president's guidance has been unmistakably clear. We are going to do everything we can to assist the Afghan people at saving Afghan lives, taking down violence in Afghanistan and the region while making sure every moment that we protect the homeland."