Taliban's refusal to sit with Kabul impediment to peace

The writer is a member faculty of contemporary studies at NDU Islamabad and can be reached

"There was unanimity of views among all participants that the war was not the solution and we should resolve our problems through intra-Afghan dialogue", said former vice president Mohammad Younus Qanooni.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday his administration had accelerated negotiations to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan with groups including the Taliban, and, as they make progress, would be able to reduce the United States troop presence there.

"This meeting was very successful", the Taliban official told reporters, flanked by the former president who was appointed after US-led forces routed the Taliban in 2001.

But the US -backed government in Kabul was not invited to the conference because the Taliban have persistently refused to engage in any talks with Kabul until all foreign forces leave Afghanistan. But in anticipation of such an order in the future, given the Trump administration's achievement of what it calls a "framework" for potential peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government, military planners have been considering plans for how a pullout might be conducted.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday described those talks as "constructive" and voiced cautious hope for a negotiated end to America's longest war.

But it was also striking because the Taliban - who banned television, cinemas and photography when they ruled Afghanistan - are rarely so visible.

Afghan women, also largely excluded from the table, fear seeing their hard-won rights eroded if negotiators seek a hasty truce with the Taliban.

Speaking at a gathering with senior Afghan politicians, the Taliban representative stressed the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

If the govt in Kabul is not directly involved, do talks, or the government, have any legitimacy? If the United States continues to show that it is in a hurry to leave Afghanistan, then the Taliban would be more than happy to wait them out.

Freezing rain warning issued for Wednesday
It was another attractive weather day on Tuesday along the Front Range with seasonal temperatures, sunny skies and dry conditions. Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for Toronto and much of the GTA, warning of freezing rain Wednesday.

US-led forces in 2001 toppled the hardline Taliban for harboring the al Qaeda militants responsible for the September 11 attacks.

"Moscow does not believe in Ghani's future", said Serenko of the Center for Contemporary Afghan Studies, suggesting Russian Federation is backing Atmar ahead of the polls.

The Moscow meeting came as broader peace talks involving the USA and Taliban representatives in Doha appear to be gaining momentum.

The attacks were reported as representatives of the Taliban were to hold meetings in Moscow with prominent Afghan figures, including former President Hamid Karzai, opposition leaders and tribal elders _ but not Kabul government officials.

"They arrived there late, fought back and managed to get the checkpoint under control", he added.

The Moscow talks took place days after US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, reported "significant progress" in his latest round of negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar, where Stanikzai led the insurgent team.

Mr Stanikzai has overseen a series of meetings with the U.S. special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, in recent months.

Many of those American allies later became the Taliban - enemies of the United States when the Americans chose to invade Afghanistan. "We can find complete peace in Afghanistan". "Let hundreds of such meetings be held, but these would only be paper (agreements) unless there is an agreement by the Afghan government; Afghanistan's national assembly and Afghanistan's legal institutions", he stressed.

At least 28 security personnel have been killed and 20 others wounded in a Taliban attack in northern Kunduz province, an official said on Tuesday.

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