With eye on Afghanistan talks, Trump vows to stop 'endless wars'

07 February, 2019, 13:47 | Author: Trevor Moore
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WASHINGTON, Feb 5 - A top USA general said on Tuesday that talks between the United States and Taliban were in their "very, very early" stages and the Afghan government, so far excluded from talks, would have to be part of the solution. The delegation will be led by Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, former head of Taliban's Qatar office.

"We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement - but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace", Trump said in his State of the Union address.

The Afghan government is worrying openly that the US will leave them at the mercy of the Taliban.

He also reiterated the Taliban's opposition to Afghanistan's constitution, calling it "illegitimate" and maintaining that it should be based on "Islamic principles, national interests, historic pride and social justice".

"The Russian ambassador to Afghanistan has knocked on the doors of all those invited to the meeting many times, urging for their participation", said Sebghatullah Ahmadi, spokesperson for Afghanistan's foreign ministry. "We agreed on many points and I am hopeful that in future we can succeed further, and finally we can reach a solution, we can find a complete peace in Afghanistan", Stanikzai said.

The Moscow meeting - the Taliban's most significant with Afghan politicians in recent memory - saw the insurgents praying together with sworn enemies, including former president Hamid Karzai, as they discussed their vision for the future.

Abdullah said that Taliban were the biggest obstacle to peace, but that if the Moscow meeting creates "an opening for real peace talks, it would still be a step forward".

Washington ended up not recognizing the Taliban and blamed it for harboring Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in NY and Washington.

"Part of the Taliban's approach here is, 'We are not against talking to Afghans... we don't want to talk to the Kabul government because they aren't in a position to negotiate". Hope for peace coexists with the fear that the United States will leave as carelessly as it boosted intervention in 2017, when civilian deaths surged due to increased air strikes.

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Ghani said he had spoken late on Tuesday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had stressed the importance of "ensuring the centrality of the Afghan government in the peace process". Both sides in the conflict say they want to strike hard militarily to bolster their position at the negotiating table.

USA and Taliban negotiators are due to meet again in Qatar on February 25 to resume their discussions.

This did not stop some prominent Afghan politicians, such as Mohammad Mohaqiq, deputy to the government's chief executive, from attending the intra-Afghan talks, but they did so in an independent capacity.

"Peace talks with the Taliban continue, but (the Defense Department) has not received a directive to change the force structure in Afghanistan", he said.

The Russian foreign minister was directly referring to last months' six-day negotiations USA reconciliation envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held with Taliban officials in Qatar.

"We understand that the government needs to be part of these negotiations". The deal will ensure that terrorist groups are not allowed to use the country as a base of operations and that the United States and other foreign countries will withdraw their troops, Sputnik previously reported.

But with presidential elections in Afghanistan in June, President Ashraf Ghani is under pressure to bring the war to an end as civilians are overwhelmingly the biggest victims.

"At the end of any peace deal, the decision-maker will be the government of Afghanistan", Ghani told TOLO News, the country's largest private television station.

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