UN Security Council to discuss Afghanistan

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


The United Nations Security Council will hold an open meeting Friday on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, diplomats said Thursday.

The discussion was requested by the Afghan government, as well as Norway and Estonia, and will take place at 10:00 am (1400 GMT), the diplomats added.

The Security Council last met on Afghanistan in June, but the situation in the conflict-ridden country has rapidly worsened since then.

The Taliban control large swathes of the countryside and are now challenging Afghan government forces in several large cities, including Herat, near the western border with Iran, and Kandahar in the south.

Fighting has raged since May, when US and other foreign forces began the first stage of a troop withdrawal due to be completed later this month.

The Afghan and US militaries have stepped up air strikes against the insurgents, and the Taliban warned Wednesday that they would target senior government officials in retaliation.

The European Union on Thursday condemned the Taliban's latest deadly attacks in Afghanistan and demanded "an urgent, comprehensive and permanent ceasefire."