Taliban says talks with Afghan politicians 'very successful'

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"So this is the fist step which will take us to peace, in future we will have more meetings and we can go further".

This did not stop some prominent Afghan politicians, such as Mohammad Mohaqiq, deputy to the government's chief executive, from attending the intra-Afghan talks, but they did so in an independent capacity.

"We can find a complete peace in Afghanistan". It appears that Russian Federation facilitated the meeting despite strong opposition from President Ghani, who has also been sidelined from other peace initiatives led by United States special envoy Zalmai Khalilzad in recent months.

Afghan officials have criticized Moscow for not upholding its pledges to facilitate direct talks between Kabul and the Taliban.

Ever since, the Taliban have been fighting to drive out foreign forces and defeat the Western-backed government in Kabul.

After two years of intensified attacks by the Taliban on the Afghan government, military and foreign forces, they now control or contest almost half of the districts across Afghanistan.

President Ghani believes such an agreement will not result in lasting peace and could eventually lead Afghanistan to yet another civil war.

Participants gather before a conference of Afghan opposition and Taliban representatives, in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 5, 2019.

The Taliban consider Ghani and his administration to be U.S. puppets, and have refused offers to talk a truce.

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The meeting came after a six-day meeting between the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban in Qatar.

Instead, the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan under a ruthless interpretation of Sharia law between 1996 and 2001, sat down for talks with Ghani's rivals including Mohammad Haneef Atmar as the country prepares to hold presidential elections in July.

Expressing hopes that an agreement will be reached regarding the scheduled withdrawal of the foreign forces from Afghanistan, Mohaqiq said the political leaders and Taliban share similar views in this regard which could lead to the launch intra-Afghan peace talks.

A United States official said in December that Trump was planning to withdraw more than 5,000, or more than a third, of the 14,000 USA troops in Afghanistan. "This has put Ghani in a hard position because he does not have the support of the influential Afghan figures, and can not agree with the U.S. on peace", the analyst noted.

Fawzia Koofi, one of two women invited to Moscow, said the Islamist militants would "have to adapt to a modern Afghanistan".

Ghani's administration shunned the February 5-6 Russian-hosted initiative, which came after the USA announced it was close to reaching a framework agreement with the Taliban on ending the 18-year Afghan war, including on the withdrawal of foreign troops.

In a statement ahead of the Moscow meet, the network said they would not accept peace at the cost of their freedoms and urged delegates to defend the rights of half of Afghanistan's 35 million people. "They can say what they want, but who are they representing?" He said Afghanistan wants good relations with all countries but will not allow anyone to interfere in Afghan affairs.

They argue that Ghani seeks to spoil this rare opening for peace and that his resistance derives from a fear that if talks progress, he could lose his chance for five more years in power.

"It is responsibility of all the Afghans to end foreign invasion", Stanekzai said, adding, "War has been imposed on the Afghan nation and the Islamic Emirate as their country has been invaded and the invaders have toppled an Islamic sovereign system". And while the relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaeda has ebbed and flowed over time, at present, militants from al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) are embedded in Taliban units and serve as trainers and advisers.

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