The United States on March 7 appealed to the Taliban to join peace talks to prevent another upsurge in fighting this spring.
The Taliban said on March 5 that it would not take part in peace talks with the Afghan government, citing its longstanding demand that all foreign fighters must first leave Afghanistan.
But Afghan officials on March 7 downplayed the rejection as a "tactical" move by the Taliban, and said they still hope to resume talks.
"They have a choice," said State Department spokesman John Kirby. "Rather than continuing to fight their fellow Afghans and destabilizing their country, they should engage in a peace process and ultimately become a legitimate part of the political system of a sovereign, united Afghanistan."
"There is and should be a sense of urgency around getting these talks up and running," Kirby said. "If there's no peace process in place...we would and the Afghan security forces would have to prepare themselves for the potential for increased violence in the spring and summer months.
"It's the so-called fighting season, and we've seen this before, when the weather warms up...I want to stress that's not what we want to see."