Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Afghan politicians & Taliban hold talks in Moscow to end war

Afghan politicians & Taliban hold talks in Moscow to end war

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. The Afghan president has said U.S. troops are still needed.

Their appeal comes as the Taliban meets with a high-ranking Afghan delegation in Moscow, and a week after the insurgents held unprecedented talks with United States negotiators.

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

"We understand that the government in Kabul needs to be part of these negotiations, we wish that they would have been here today", said Karzai adding it was an "issue that the Islamic Movement of Taliban and the Afghan government have to resolve". Pompeo "underscored the central importance of ensuring the centrality of the Afghan government in the peace process", Ghani said.

But they came a day after President Donald Trump told Americans his administration had accelerated talks for a political settlement in Afghanistan and would be able to reduce USA troops there as negotiations advance to end America's longest war.

On the critical issue of women's rights, Stanikzai said the Taliban were committed to all rights of women "that have been given to them by the sacred religion of Islam". But the Afghan leader has lost that luxury in recent months as he has openly opposed the outcome of US-Taliban talks, led by US special envoy Zalmai Khalilzad.

About the women's rights, Stanikzai said Islam gave all basic rights to women such as their participation in business, property ownership, inheritance, education, work, security, health and having a good life.

"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.

Ghani's allies in Washington insist Afghans should lead the peace process, and ostensibly the months-long push by the United States to engage the Taliban has been aimed at convincing them to negotiate with Kabul. India had sent retired officials to the Russia-led peace talks in November 2018 where the Taliban representatives were also present.

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He said delegates agreed on "almost" everything - but a consensus was not reached over the Taliban's demand for an Islamic constitution, and the group's views on women.

Ambassador Abdul Rahim Sayed Jan told Anadolu Agency that there is no progress in the peace process because of Taliban's reluctance to talk to the Afghan government.

The intra-Afghan conference in Moscow was held on February 5-6.

Karzai, who was president from 2001 to 2014, said he was "happy" to sit down with his former foes.

The extraordinary two-day gathering in Moscow saw Taliban leaders stand shoulder-to-shoulder with former president Hamid Karzai, who called the insurgents his "brothers" as both sides agreed to seek lasting peace.

Any peace process in Afghanistan will have to be much more broad-based than mere engagement with the Taliban and at this point it is now clear how the USA intends to achieve this.

Serenko also said Moscow used this week's conference to legitimize its long-held ties with the Taliban, which Russian Federation still designates as a terrorist group.

On Tuesday, Taliban forces reportedly killed dozens of members of the Afghan security forces in a series of attacks in the north of the country.

"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.

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