Taliban launch deadly attacks as they demand new constitution

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The United States has not commented publicly on the meeting, which includes a 10-member Taliban delegation led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai.

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

This comes as reports emerged earlier today that the deputy chief of the political office of Taliban in Qatar Mawlavi Abdul Salam Hanafi has said that the half of the US troops would withdraw from Afghanistan until the end of April.

No government official was invited to the roundtable, which saw heavyweight Afghan politicians and other sworn enemies of the Taliban praying and dining with the militants.

"What is interesting about the meeting in Moscow is that opposition politicians in the country representing all of the major opposition parties are in Moscow today talking".

The Taliban killed at least 21 people in their latest attacks in Afghanistan, including 11 policemen who were slain when the insurgents stormed a checkpoint in northern Baghlan province, provincial officials said Tuesday.

In 2018, Tashkent hosted a high-level global conference on Afghanistan titled "Peace Process, Cooperation in the Sphere of Security and Regional Interaction" where the participants called for an urgent start of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement.

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

Dr. Marvin Weinbaum, the scholar-in-residence and director of the Middle East Institute's Center for Pakistan and Afghanistan Studies, joined Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear Tuesday to discuss the Taliban talks.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the Kunduz attack.

A U.S. general told a Senate hearing shortly before Ghani's interview was broadcast that the talks were in their early stages and the Afghan government would have to be part of any negotiated solution.

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

But the meeting has sidelined Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's government, which has criticized the gathering.

In addition, the meeting in the Russian capital is a victory for the Kremlin, according to Weinbaum.

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Mawlavai Hanafi has also claimed that the assurance regarding the pullout of half of US troops has been given by the USA side and that technical groups would be formed to work regarding a schedule for the pullout of the remaining USA forces from Afghanistan. "If we look at the Afghan issue in broader terms, we will see that there is a need to search for a political solution apart from resolving security issues".

Afghans living in Russian Federation are hosting the meeting between Afghan politicians and Taliban members who refuse to talk with President Ghani, one organizer Ghulam Mohammad Jalal told DW.

The militant group, which is on the offensive and already controls or contests about half of territory in Afghanistan, refuses to hold talks with the authorities in Kabul until it reaches a binding deal on the pullout of foreign troops, including 14,000 from the U.S.

Even as the US has pursued diplomacy with the Taliban vis-à-vis the Qataris, Russia has been conducting its own diplomatic overtures, putting together a diplomatic conference in Moscow in November 2018 that brought together members of the Afghan government's High Peace Council, as well as Taliban delegates, and representatives from regional power brokers, including Islamabad, Tehran and Beijing.

"We understand that the government needs to be part of these negotiations".

The talks were "very satisfactory" Karzai said at the end of the February 5-6 talks, which have been described by some as part of an "intra-Afghan" peace process - despite the absence of Kabul government representatives.

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