Taliban's refusal to sit with Kabul impediment to peace

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The Pentagon has reportedly prepared plans to withdraw half its 14,000 troops by the summer.

Both sides noted they had agreed "in principle" to a framework on key issues, including a Taliban guarantee that Afghan soil would not be used in the future for terrorist attacks against the U.S.in return for Washington's withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan.

Trump said on Tuesday his administration had accelerated talks for a political settlement in Afghanistan and would be able to reduce USA troops there as negotiations advanced to end America's longest war.

The negotiations in Moscow follow recent talks between the United States and the Taliban in Qatar.

Former Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, who was also part of the Afghan delegation, suggested the formation of an interim government that includes the Taliban as the way out of the logjam.

But Hanefi later denied that he had made the comment, saying, "Until now we did not agree" on a USA withdrawal. Hope for peace coexists with the fear that the U.S. will leave as carelessly as it boosted intervention in 2017, when civilian deaths surged due to increased air strikes.

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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.

Despite the presence of USA troops and support for the government of President Ashraf Ghani, Washington may find itself marginalized in the country as regional powers like Russian Federation come to the center stage, the group said.

"Great nations do not fight endless wars", Trump said in his annual State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday.

Asked about Trump's speech, a Taliban official in Moscow told Reuters that all foreign troops in Afghanistan must leave.

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who headed the Taliban delegation, made a rare appearance in front of global media besides a smiling Karzai.

Speaking to the Afghan envoys, they promised not to seek a monopoly on power but an "inclusive Islamic system" of governance for Afghanistan.

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Of note, for as much as he hypes up the US' possible loss of face following any prospective withdrawal from Afghanistan, Kakar doesn't talk about what a loss of face and money it would be for India if the Taliban seizes its many investments there in the aftermath.

"Ultimately, we need to get to a Taliban-Afghanistan discussion", General Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command, told US lawmakers. The talks, however, have sidelined Ghani and his government.

But Pakistan "has avoided taking any concrete or irreversible steps such as arresting or expelling Taliban leaders who do not cooperate with reconciliation efforts", he said.

Taliban militants who are in control of parts of Baghlan province have not commented on the attack.

"They can go to school, they can go to universities, they can work", he added. Yet the words which follow are anything but reassuring, warning that "immorality, indecency and circulation of non-Islamic culture" have been imposed on Afghan society "under the name of women [sic] rights". "From the meetings in the lawns of Peshawar's Governor house to the sittings in Moscow and collective dementia of our political elite". The insurgents recognize that while they may never be able to defeat the United States militarily, neither can the US completely pacify the insurgency.

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

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The two-day summit is now underway in the Russian capital - without Afghan government representation.

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