Moscow talks with Afghan politicians 'very successful'

Moscow talks with Afghan politicians 'very successful'

Moscow talks with Afghan politicians 'very successful'

The absence of Afghan government representatives at the talks have underscored the Taliban's hostility toward Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's increasingly marginalised administration in Kabul.

Mr Stanikzai, who until recently was the head of the Taliban's political office in Qatar and remains a leading figure in the group, was giving his first interview to the global media while attending a meeting in Moscow with senior Afghan opposition politicians.

Khalilzad and his team are due to meet with the Taliban again in Qatar on February 25 for more discussions.

That's less true for the current government's leadership, which has been condemning the talks for not including President Ghani.

"The Americans told us that they will withdraw half of their forces from Afghanistan from first of February until end of April", said Hanafi.

The Taliban routinely exaggerates its attacks and details of other engagements, and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Afghan officials deny the claims.

Hanafi said both the US and the Taliban would create technical committees that "will work on a timetable for the withdrawal of remaining troops".

Russian government has publicly distanced itself from the talks, but according to reports Russian envoy to Kabul Zamir Kabulov is behind the initiative.

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A USA official said in December that Trump was planning to withdraw more than 5,000, or more than a third, of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. USA forces in 2001 toppled the country's hardline Taliban leaders for harboring the al Qaeda militants responsible for the September 11 attacks. "Until now we did not agree", the Taliban official said.

Taliban is making "nice statements" in Moscow but back home schools for girls are closed in majority of Taliban-controlled areas Fawzia Koofi, a member of Afghan parliament and one of the two women participating in ongoing "inter-Afghan" talks in Moscow, told TRT World.

Even as the US has pursued diplomacy with the Taliban vis-à-vis the Qataris, Russia has been conducting its own diplomatic overtures, putting together a diplomatic conference in Moscow in November 2018 that brought together members of the Afghan government's High Peace Council, as well as Taliban delegates, and representatives from regional power brokers, including Islamabad, Tehran and Beijing.

Only two women are present at the talks between Taliban representatives and Afghan politicians, warlords and other powerbrokers in Moscow.

USA and Taliban negotiators are scheduled to meet again on February 25 in Doha, weeks after Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, said a framework peace agreement had been reached with the militants. It is in the interests of the Afghan people as a whole that they should be included and heard, and their fundamental rights recognised.

"A more involved role for Moscow has surprised many, mostly due to Russia's bloody history in Afghanistan", said The Soufan Center, a nonprofit security analysis group. "Let hundreds of such meetings be held, but these would only be paper (agreements) unless there is an agreement by the Afghan government; Afghanistan's national assembly and Afghanistan's legal institutions", he stressed.

"Rest assured that no one can push us aside", he said.

The Taliban have been staging near-daily attacks, inflicting heavy casualties on the embattled Afghan army and security forces. In a lengthy interview with the privately owned ToloNews TV, Ghani denounced the ongoing Moscow meeting, arguing the attendees did not have the executive power to translate decisions into action.

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