WASHINGTON - With Afghanistan blaming Pakistan for the latest suicide bombings in Kabul, the United States has called on both countries to eliminate safe havens for militants and to reduce the operational capacity of the Taliban on both sides of the border.

State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had underlined his concerns over the spike in Taliban attacks in a telephone conversation on Monday with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Responding to questions, the spokesman said Washington does not have “specific intelligence” to conclude whether Pakistan was involved in the deadly attacks on the Afghan side of the border.

“It is in the urgent interest of both countries to eliminate safe havens and to reduce the operational capacity of the Taliban on both sides of the border,” Kirby added.  

”Now is the time for the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, to work together to achieve the shared goal of defeating violent extremists,” the spokesman said. 

Kerry and Ghani talked about the terrorist attacks, the issue of the safe havens and of the need for both countries to continue to work at this to try to eliminate those safe havens, Kirby said. ”Nobody said it was going to be easy, and while we did cite progress, that doesn’t mean that anybody on either side is going to sort of let their foot off the gas on the need to continue to talk continue to try to deal with these safe havens,” he said.

“These attacks, all of them, have resulted in now hundreds of casualties and at least 56 deaths, including children, demonstrate again the insurgency’s complete disregard for the lives of innocent Afghans,” Kirby said. 

He said that the people of the region have suffered far too much at the hands of terrorists and violent extremists.”The US stands by the Afghan people and remains committed to working closely with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other partners to achieve a stable, secure and prosperous region,” Kirby said.

He said that the goal has always been one of Afghan-led reconciliation with the Taliban and that remains America’s goal and objective. 

”Obviously, these attacks underscore two things: that Afghanistan remains dangerous place and that the Taliban has not renounced the use of violence as a tactic and a terror device,” he said. ”We want to see political reconciliation and a safe and prosperous and secure Afghanistan, and again, these attacks underscore that remains a challenge,” he added.

He said that the US hopes the insurgent violence would not derail efforts aimed at seeking an end to the Afghan conflict through peaceful negotiations.  

“We certainly want to see a political reconciliation process move forward. We want to see peace. And recent participation in those reconciliation talks as of a few weeks ago was certainly an encouraging sign… we want to see this progress,” Kirby said.

Chinese and U.S. officials attended as “observers” the Pakistan-hosted inaugural peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban envoys on July 7.

A second round of the negotiations was scheduled for July 31 but the Taliban pulled out from the process at the last moment after acknowledging its longtime leader, Mullah Omar, died.

In his address on Monday, President Ghani also announced Afghanistan alone will initiate future moves on reconciliation with the Taliban, “according to our own ways and mechanism.”

He went to on state that Kabul does not want Islamabad to bring the Taliban to the peace talks but to halt those waging the insurgency against Afghanistan.