Taliban 'not seeking to seize whole Afghanistan'

Afghan security personnel patrol in the city of Ghazni province west of Kabul Afghanistan. A Taliban assault on Ghazni a key city linking areas of Taliban influence barely 75 miles from Kabul has killed about 100 Afghan policemen

Hamid Karzai, a former Afghan president, who also attended the talks, said: "The principal issues and wishes were: peace, stability, an Afghanistan free of foreign forces, an Afghanistan free of intervention from any side".

"Great nations do not fight endless wars", Trump said in his annual State of the Union address to Congress, in which he also said us troops had almost defeated Islamic State militants in Syria and it was time to bring them home.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said the US has been holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban.

This 12-member team was established recently to negotiate with the Taliban.

While the Taliban have been leaking apparent details of negotiations with the USA, the State Department and White House have dismissed several claims made by the group regarding the recent talks.

Answering Anadolu Agency's questions at a reception to celebrate the 71st Independence Day of Sri Lanka in Ankara, Jan said: "Once Taliban rejected to sit with the Afghan government, the whole process now cooled down".

"Washington is backing Khalilzad's efforts because it could pave the way for a US withdrawal from Afghanistan - something US President Donald Trump wants to happen", Fakur said.

Pentagon officials say they have no orders to withdraw troops.

Earlier Wednesday, a senior Taliban official told reporters the US had agreed to withdraw half its ground troops by the end of April - a claim refuted by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the US State Department.

"Russia is returning to Afghanistan, using it as a platform for confrontation with the United States", said independent expert Arkady Dubnov. This should have been self-evident because Trump's foreign policy is all about prioritizing U.S. interests instead of "taking one for the team" and "doing favors" for its global "partners" who he feels have been exploiting America for far too long by freeloading off of it. India, it can be said, is one such "partner", at least when it comes to Afghanistan, though this will be returned to in the next section of the present article. 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.

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Provincial security officials have not yet commented on the clash, with Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claiming that 30 ANA personnel were killed and weapons and ammunitions captured by rebels.

Ghani's call to Pompeo seemed an attempt to re-assert his government's role in negotiations he has sharply criticized at times as one-sided.

Talks between the Taliban and senior Afghan figures - but not members of the government - are taking place in Moscow this week.

Taliban and influential Afghan opposition leaders concluded a rare two-day "peace meeting" in Moscow on Wednesday, where they jointly declared that a complete withdrawal of US -led foreign forces was key to a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Speaking to the Afghan envoys, they promised not to seek a monopoly on power but an "inclusive Islamic system" of governance for Afghanistan.

"The Moscow meeting not only does not have a positive effect but will have negative effects".

He said a formal Taliban office in Afghanistan and a credible guarantee for peace was vital.

Mr Stanikzai told the BBC he believed the Trump administration wanted to "bring peace to Afghanistan".

Karzai praised the dialogue with the Taliban and said the government "needs to be part of these negotiations".

The Taliban have been staging near-daily attacks, inflicting heavy casualties on the embattled Afghan army and security forces.

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