Taliban Denounces Constitution At Start Of Moscow Talks

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The renewed fighting coincides with a two-day round of peace talks now underway in Moscow between Taliban representatives and several Afghan officials, who are not affiliated with the Kabul government.

In response to a question regarding the reasons existing behind President Ghani's opposition with the Moscow Summit, Mohaqiq said President Ghani is opposing the summit as Taliban rejects talks with him and believes that President Ghani is a puppet leader and therefore they (Taliban) have started negotiations with the people of Afghanistan.

In the run up to the talks, which follow after last month's negotiations between the U.S. and Taliban, Afghan women in particular have raised concerns over their rights in the event of a peace accord being reached.

Former Vice President Mohammad Yunus Qanuni and former Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor are also on the list of participants, along with former Taliban insurgents who reconciled with the Afghan government.

A 10-man Taliban delegation said it hoped to use the talks for "opening channels to reaching an understanding with non-government Afghan political groups".

Stanakzai said that once U.S. forces withdraw, the Taliban will not demand political monopoly and that in order to achieve sustainable peace, the names of Taliban leaders must be removed from the USA blacklist so that they can travel freely in their efforts for peace.

The Russian Embassy in Kabul said the gathering was an intra-Afghan dialogue to discuss ways of ending the war.

"We are ready to play our role in bringing peace to Afghanistan", the statement read. Former Afghan president's adviser Zia Massoud could also attend the event.

"A dynamic generation is working in Afghanistan and these are great achievements and we must defend them".

Second, a long-term arrangement is needed to ensure security is maintained during the withdrawal process of United States forces and beyond.

Former Afghan Vice President Yunus Qanuni stressed that not all the Afghans think that their country is occupied.

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"It will not bring peace to Afghanistan", Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said as the talks got under way on February 5 that there were no contacts planned by the Kremlin to meet with any of the Taliban delegates.

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

In a lengthy interview with the privately owned ToloNews TV, Ghani denounced the ongoing Moscow meeting, arguing the attendees did not have the executive power to translate decisions into action.

"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".

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

But that report was contradicted at the end of the talks in Moscow, with the Taliban official previously quoted by RIA, Abdul Salam Hanafi, denying that he had made the comment.

"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.

The venue of the talks indicates an expanding role in Afghanistan for Moscow.

Such a meeting between the Taliban and Afghan politicians - including Karzai, who was appointed by the USA - is nearly unheard of.