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Moscow firms up foothold in Afghanistan, Taliban ties as United States eyes exit

Moscow firms up foothold in Afghanistan, Taliban ties as United States eyes exit

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was present, but the Afghan government was not part of the talks.

"There was unanimity of views among all participants that the war was not the solution and we should resolve our problems through intra-Afghan dialogue", said former vice president Mohammad Younus Qanooni.

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the head of the 10-member Taliban delegation in Moscow, said the meetings had been "very successful".

United States peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been conducting intense diplomatic negotiations with the Afghan Taliban's leadership in Doha, Qatar.

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani has repeatedly called on the Taliban to begin direct negotiations with his representatives, but so far the group has refused.

In other civil society action, residents in Nangarhar, Paktia and Helmand provinces organized separate meetings where they slammed Stanakzai over his recent remarks about the Afghan security forces - which he said would be dissolved if peace was agreed on.

Khalilzad is in a hurry to find a peace deal for Afghanistan that would allow America to bring home its troops after 17 years of war. It has brought together Taliban representatives and prominent Afghan figures.

"Yes, the Americans told us last month that they would withdraw half of their troops from the beginning of February to the end of April", Abdul Salam Hanafi was quoted as saying by Russian news agency RIA.

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"The effort now is exactly with the goal to have an integrated peace settlement in which the withdrawal of troops will be one element", Atmar said when asked whether the meeting demanded complete withdrawal of forces by the USA and its allies.

The Major-General doesn't really care about the US" worldwide reputation potentially taking a hit after its "second Vietnam' or what its wounded veterans think about the withdrawal, but his emotional embellishment of these two topics appears to be nothing more than a poorly thought-out attempt to misportray Trump's peace talks with the Taliban in the worst possible light because of how anxious India is about the strategic consequences of their success. The quid pro quo for the Taliban to officially and finally break ties with al-Qaeda and its affiliates could be the withdrawal of American soldiers.

"No one can decide without the consent of the Afghan people", Ghani told Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews. "Those taking part in the talks are independent individuals", Ghani said, according to Tolo News.

Despite the talks in Moscow, and a further round of US-Taliban discussions being scheduled for 25 February, violence in Afghanistan continues. Hope for peace coexists with the fear that the USA will leave as carelessly as it boosted intervention in 2017, when civilian deaths surged due to increased air strikes.

"At the first step, we want all the foreign forces to leave and end the military presence in our country", Sohail Shahin, a spokesman for a Taliban office in Qatar, said by telephone.

Many of those American allies later became the Taliban - enemies of the United States when the Americans made a decision to invade Afghanistan.

The Taliban do not want to seize the entire Afghanistan by "military" power as it will not bring peace to the war-torn country, the militant group's key official who led the peace negotiations with the U.S. has said. "Until now we did not agree", the Taliban official said.

The Taliban have been staging near-daily attacks, inflicting heavy casualties on the embattled Afghan army and security forces. It is in the interests of the Afghan people as a whole that they should be included and heard, and their fundamental rights recognised.


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