Taliban says talks with Afghan politicians 'very successful'

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He also stated that the two sides hope to achieve a durable peace in the war-ravaged country.

This comes as reports emerged earlier today that the deputy chief of the political office of Taliban in Qatar Mawlavi Abdul Salam Hanafi has said that the half of the USA troops would withdraw from Afghanistan until the end of April.

Taliban official Abdul Salam Hanafi, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting in Moscow between the Taliban and other prominent Afghan figures, said that US officials promised the pullout will begin this month. The government in Kabul said the talks were not in Afghanistan's best interest.

"The Moscow meeting is nothing more than a fantasy".

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.

The Taliban's deputy chief negotiator, Salam Hanafi, also said the group will negotiate directly with Kabul once the United States announces a full withdrawal.

Two days of unprecedented talks in Moscow with high-ranking Afghan politicians end with disagreements over women's rights and demands for a new constitution.

"No power in the country can dissolve the government", said Ghani, who added he was ready to "stand and defend our country".

The Russian government has denied organizing the meeting, which is being hosted by a Moscow-based organization of Afghan diaspora leaders.

The Taliban's statement in Moscow is clearly meant to dispel the memories of women being beaten and murdered under its brutal theocratic rule, as well as forced into burqas and barred from leaving their homes without a male relative as escort.

The Taliban are expected to meet with United States negotiators again later in the month.

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The Russian Foreign Ministry hailed the initiative of holding the forum on February 5-6, noting that it fulfills the principle of a peace process led by the Afghans themselves.

Among Afghans invited to the gathering are former President Hamid Karzai; Haneef Atmar, a former national security adviser to Ghani and his key rival in July's presidential election; and a number of factional leaders such as Ismail Khan, Mohammed Mohaqeq and Atta Mohammad Noor.

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

The Kremlin hosted another Taliban meeting in November past year which brought to the negotiating table representatives of the insurgent group as well as members of the Afghan peace council - a body created by the Afghan government to facilitate peace talks.

America's longest-running war is edging closer toward a conceivable end.

"At the first step, we want all the foreign forces to leave and end the military presence in our country", Sohail Shahin, a spokesman for a Taliban office in Qatar, said by telephone.

On the critical issue of women's rights, Stanikzai said the Taliban were committed to all rights of women "that have been given to them by the sacred religion of Islam".

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.

Despite the talks in Moscow, and a further round of US-Taliban discussions being scheduled for 25 February, violence in Afghanistan continues.

Earlier Monday, the Taliban targeted a local pro-government militia in a village in northern Samangan province, killing 10 people there, including a woman, said Sediq Azizi, the provincial governor's spokesman.

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