Two decades of conflict have taken a turn for the worse as U.S.-led international forces withdraw and the Taliban launch offensives around Afghanistan, taking districts and border crossings while encircling provincial capitals.
Negotiatiors have been meeting in Doha since September but failed to make substantive progress with time running out before foreign troops' full exit by September 11.
"Let's ... take important steps to continue the peace process, to prevent the killing of the people," Abdullah Abdullah, head of the government's High Council for National Reconciliation, said at the start of new high-level talks intended to last two days.
"Because we cannot pay the price for this in blood and we cannot escape responsibility for it," Abdullah said.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's deputy leader and negotiator, regretted lack of progress. "But there should still be hope and the Taliban will make efforts for talks to have positive result," he said.