NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday Afghanistan's chances for peace were "greater now" than in many years, even as the Taliban step up attacks on Afghan forces, which are suffering record high casualties.
Another 20 troops were missing after the overnight raid in Farah province's Pusht Koh district, provincial council member Dadullah Qaneh told AFP, as Afghan forces struggle to beat back the insurgents across the country.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying more than 20 soldiers were killed and five captured.
Despite the escalating violence, Stoltenberg struck a relatively optimistic tone during his unannounced visit to the Afghan capital.
But he acknowledged "the situation remains serious".
"The Taliban must understand that continuing the fight is pointless and counterproductive," he said.
"We need an Afghan-owned and led peace process. And it must be inclusive." Ghani thanked the alliance for its support of Afghan troops, which have been "bearing the burden" of the conflict since the withdrawal of US-led NATO combat soldiers at the end of 2014.
NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan is to train and assist local forces. It has around 16,000 troops in the country, the majority of them American. Stoltenberg's visit comes after a spate of insider attacks by Afghan soldiers that have killed or wounded several NATO servicemen.
"From the period of May 1 to the most current data as of October 1, 2018, the average number of casualties the (Afghan forces) suffered is the greatest it has ever been during like periods," Resolute Support said, according to SIGAR.
Underscoring the security weaknesses, powerful police chief General Abdul Raziq was among three people killed in a brazen insider attack on a high-level security meeting last month in Kandahar that was claimed by the Taliban.
The Taliban confirmed Tuesday they would send "high-ranking" representatives to the event.
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