Published: Thu, February 07, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Militant attack kills 10 policemen in northern Afghan province

Militant attack kills 10 policemen in northern Afghan province

The rare public appearance that kicked off a day before saw Taliban officials spell out their vision for Afghanistan in front of rolling cameras and a host of political heavyweights, including former president Hamid Karzai.

Ghani's allies in Washington insist Afghans should lead the peace process, and ostensibly the months-long push by the U.S. to engage the Taliban has been aimed at convincing them to negotiate with Kabul.

A senior Taliban official has said the insurgent group has no plans to seize the whole of Afghanistan by military force, speaking at peace talks in Moscow that have brought together numerous country's powerbrokers.

Officials in Kabul have suggested the discussions in Russian Federation are an attempt by political rivals to undermine the Afghan government, and explore a potential deal with the Taliban without their input.

Afghan political leader and one of the participants of intra-Afghan dialogue in Moscow Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq has said that the participants of the intra-Afghan dialogue in Moscow shared some agreements and disagreements on certain issues during the first day of the summit.

Stanekzai said the Taliban want the crisis to be resolved in a peaceful way and that the group wants to play a significant role in the security of the region. "But after ending their military presence, their non-military teams can come and we need them too, they can come and take part in the reconstruction and development process", he added. She said: "They (the Taliban) came up with a 13 article position about women's rights". Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted ahead of Trump´s speech that he had spoken to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who "underscored the central importance of ensuring the centrality of the Afghan government in the peace process".

The Taliban's longtime negotiator, Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, who has taken part in all rounds of discussions between the insurgents and Khalilzad among other United States diplomats in recent months, will lead the Taliban delegation in Moscow.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said that Washington had "not agreed to any timeline" for a possible drawdown of troops, according to the Reuters news agency. "It is therefore required that these baseless sanctions and reward lists, which are used as a pressure tool for their interests, should be finished so that representatives of the Islamic Emirate are able to participate in peace talks in different places without any hurdle", he said.

Last month, Stanikzai met with USA envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, hoping to lay the groundwork for the eventual United States withdrawal after over 17 years of war.

Ghani also questioned the mechanism of the Moscow Talks and said: "With whom, what will they agree upon there?"

The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan under a ruthless interpretation of Sharia law between 1996 and 2001, said they did not want a "monopoly of power" but "an inclusive Islamic system".

One effect of reduced USA leverage is a greater role for Moscow, which has worked behind the scenes to solidify influence in Afghanistan.

However, the Afghan government itself has no representation at these talks as until now, the Taliban has refused to engage in discussions with government, which it deems illegitimate.

In a separate attack in neighbouring Baghlan province, Taliban militants stormed an isolated check-post of the Afghan local police at 2 a.m.

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

"Moscow does not believe in Ghani's future", said Serenko of the Centre for Contemporary Afghan Studies, suggesting Russian Federation was backing Atmar in the run-up to the polls.

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