Upbeat about peace, Atmar joins Moscow talks

Upbeat about peace, Atmar joins Moscow talks

Upbeat about peace, Atmar joins Moscow talks

No government official was invited to the roundtable, which saw heavyweight leaders - including former president Hamid Karzai - and other sworn enemies of the Taliban praying with the fighters.

Both sides said they had agreed in principle to a framework on two fundamental issues - that the Taliban would not allow terror groups to use Afghan soil for attacks, and that the USA would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

The militant group, which is on the offensive and already controls or contests about half of territory in Afghanistan, refuses to hold talks with the authorities in Kabul until it reaches a binding deal on the pullout of foreign troops, including 14,000 from the U.S. Ghani said that Pompeo also "underscored the central importance of ensuring the centrality of the Afghan government in the peace process" and signaled support for holding Afghan presidential elections in July.

Trump offered no specifics about when he would bring home the 14,000 US troops now in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, responding to Trump's speech, rejected any suggestion of a lingering US focus on counter-terrorism after troops are drawn down, reiterating their long-held demand that all foreign troops get out.

India's support for an "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled" peace process is a longstanding one even as it has been trying to engage with a range of stakeholders in Afghanistan, including the Taliban in recent times.

Ayubi says 12 troops were also wounded and that the Taliban onslaught at the base on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Kunduz city, lasted for over two hours.

Joseph Votel said Pak should play constructive role in achieving peace in Afghanistan and South Asia.

"We all of us agreed on the withdrawal of foreign forces and the establishment of an Islamic government and making a constitution - an Islamic constitution", he said.

It was based on a commitment to withdraw United States forces from the country, and a guarantee by the Taliban not to allow global jihadist groups to use Afghanistan as a base in the future.

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The rigid insurgent stance also forced Washington to exclude Ghani's government from talks between US and Taliban officials seeking a political resolution to the conflict.

Participants attend the opening of the two-day talks of the Taliban and Afghan opposition representatives at the President Hotel in Moscow on February 5, 2019.

With both sides hailing progress in talks in Qatar last month, USA peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is due to meet Taliban representatives there again on February 25.

Taliban and influential Afghan opposition leaders concluded a rare two-day "peace meeting" in Moscow on Wednesday, where they jointly declared that a complete withdrawal of USA -led foreign forces was key to a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

"Decisions taken during the meeting will not be practical and we believe it will not help the Afghan peace process", Ahmadi stressed.

"The sovereignty and establishment of an Islamic system conforming to our religious and Afghan values is our legal right", Stanekzai was quoted as saying, adding that the insurgent group has a position on women's right too.

"The people of Afghanistan want a country with sustainable peace, a united and democratic Afghanistan, a prosperous Afghanistan built by the educated women and men of it", he said.

Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan MP and one of only two women present at the Moscow meeting, told the BBC: "It's a positive step that the Taliban who were using bullets against the people of Afghanistan, especially women, are now using microphone and listening to women's voices".

If you read the first paragraph of the Taliban's Moscow statement & think Taliban 2.0 is softer & cuddlier, read on.

The Taliban has been carrying out bloody attacks against civilians and security forces with hundreds killed since the beginning of the year alone.

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