Talks With Taliban "Constructive", Hope To Reach Settlement: Donald Trump

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Ghani and de facto prime minister Abdullah Abdullah have urged the Taliban to negotiate with Kabul, saying all Afghans should agree on the need for peace and a troop withdrawal.

Afghanistan's representatives, including members of the Taliban (radical movement, outlawed in Russia), will discuss at a conference in Moscow on February 5-6 the situation in the republic and try to search for a peaceful way to settle the years-long conflict.

President Ashraf Ghani is being pushed to the sidelines as the Afghan Taliban ignore his overtures for peace and negotiate instead with his friends, and enemies, over the future of Afghanistan.

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.

The Taliban remains averse to any direct or indirect talks with the Kabul government, dismissing it as an American "puppet". "So this is the first step which we are taking towards peace and inshallah (God willing) in the future we will have more meetings", said the head of the Taliban delegation, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai.

"We accept the existence of the Taliban and invite them to chase their demands and goals through democratic paths and intra-Afghan dialogue, not through war and violence", Noor said in his speech to the delegates in Moscow where Taliban have also a strong presence.

The Taliban, who brutally ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, has always refused to break bread with Ghani and Kabul, who they view as USA stooges.

"On the other side of the talks, there are Mujahideen groups whose policies are not much different from the policies of the Taliban", said Horia Musadiq, a women's rights activist, as she pointed at the Moscow talks.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed its attack in Kunduz killed 30 personnel of the Afghan National Army.

Karzai and other Afghan leaders were confident that the Moscow siting will pave the way for start of an intra-Afghan dialogue. Former Afghan president's adviser Zia Massoud could also attend the event.

Stanekzai called for some preliminary steps that he said are essential for peace and are parts of confidence building measures. The clashes lasted two hours, he added.

"My administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban", Trump said, weighing "a possible political solution to this long and bloody conflict".

Taliban militants also suffered casualties in the firefight, he asserted. "Venue for negotiations and a communication site in the shape of an office is necessary for peace", he said, adding at present the Taliban have no open and formal address as a venue for negotiations which is a preliminary requirement.

Their appeal comes as the Taliban meets with a high-ranking Afghan delegation in Moscow, and a week after the insurgents held unprecedented talks with United States negotiators. The talks include opposition lawmakers, including former President Hamid Karzai.

"There is no need to reinterpret Afghan women's lives", the statement said. "No one can decide without the consent of the Afghan people", Ghani told Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews late Tuesday.

"I think all sides are ready for a compromise".

Frozen out for a second time, a furious Ghani, however, vowed he would not be an idle spectator as his country's future was debated overseas.

Moscow had chose to snub Afghan government officials, sources said, to ensure the participation of the Taliban who refuse to hold talks with representatives of Western-backed President Ashraf Ghani, branding them puppets of the United States. The two sides reaffirmed their mutual interests in strengthening cooperation against the background of serious challenges and threats that arise from global terrorism, transnational organised crime and illegal drug trafficking, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry said.

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