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Moscow Talks Draw Mixed Reactions Among Afghans

09 February 2019

The U.S. promised to withdraw half of its troops by April, the Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Wednesday, citing a Taliban representative in Moscow.

Decades after the Soviet Union's disastrous venture into Afghanistan, Russia is emerging as a major player in the region, with ties to the Taliban and Afghan politicians as USA troops withdraw from the country.

Karzai said at the end of the Moscow meeting that those talks had been "very satisfactory".

But Hanefi later denied that he had made the comment, saying, "Until now we did not agree" on a USA withdrawal.

The two-day talks is the first time a Taliban delegation has officially met with senior Afghan politicians, although the participants were not representing the government.

"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.

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The MPC also changed its stance to "neutral" from the "calibrated tightening" adopted in October meet a year ago . Four of six members of the MPC voted to cut the rates, while all six voted for a change in the stance.

The Taliban on Wednesday hailed two days of unprecedented talks with Afghan politicians as "very successful", despite disagreements over women's rights and its demands for an Islamic constitution in the war-torn country.

However US President Donald Trump has made clear his desire to bring an end to the 17-year conflict and withdraw at least the vast bulk of American forces.

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

The government was also excluded from the Taliban's peace talks with the United States in Doha, although in that case, it may be fairer to say that the Taliban just wanted to cut out the middleman and talk to those calling the shots.

Twenty-five Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and three local policemen were killed and 20 others wounded, he said, adding the clash erupted at 2am and lasted till 4am.

Karzai appeared to try to deflect Ghani's criticism of the Moscow meeting tweeting: "We understand that the government in Kabul needs to be a part of these negotiations".

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The Taliban official said that the group did not want "a monopoly of power", but that Afghanistan's Constitution had been "imported from the West" and was an "obstacle to peace". "I wish the best for him", Ghani said. "Until now we did not agree", the Taliban official said.

However, Mr Stanikzai said "women should not worry" about the prospect of increasing Taliban influence as they would seek to grant women all their "rights according to Islamic rule and Afghan culture".

"The policy of the Islamic Emirate is to protect the rights of women in a way that neither their legitimate rights are violated nor their human dignity and Afghan values are threatened", he was quoted as saying.

In a bid to assuage fears of a US cave-in to the Taliban, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Ghani in Kabul late Tuesday.

Taliban is making "nice statements" in Moscow but back home schools for girls are closed in majority of Taliban-controlled areas Fawzia Koofi, a member of Afghan parliament and one of the two women participating in ongoing "inter-Afghan" talks in Moscow, told TRT World.

Robert Palladino, deputy spokesman at the State Department, said Pompeo reaffirmed the USA commitment to achieving a lasting peace.

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They then followed up that message five days later with a more direct demand that referenced possible legal action. Cardiff will honor the deal but have been reluctant to make a payment until they know " all the facts ".

During a Congressional hearing, Commander of the US Central Command General Joseph Votel told the lawmakers on Tuesday that terrorists operating out of Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to threaten Afghan stability as well as stoke tensions between Pakistan and India.

Moscow Talks Draw Mixed Reactions Among Afghans