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Afghan leader dismisses Moscow talks as a power grab

AFGHAN government officials have hit out at talks over the future of the country being held in Moscow which include the Taliban as an attempt by opposition groups to take power.
Afghan leader dismisses Moscow talks as a power grab
AVA- Two days of talks organised by the Moscow-based Afghan diaspora group, the Council of Afghan Society, start tomorrow in the Russian capital according to a statement issued in Kabul today.
The “intra-Afghan” negotiations are aimed at bringing an end to 17 years of war in the country which was devastated by the US coalition invasion and occupation in the wake of the September 11 2001 destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.
A 10-member Taliban delegation is expected to be in Moscow as the talks convene and a number of high-profile figures including former president Hamid Karzai will also be present.
But the Afghan government will not be represented at the discussions, which will be attended by 38 delegates including current presidential candidates and former warlords turned politicians.
President Ashraf Ghani dismissed the gathering as “regrettable” and accused those attending of seeking to take power.
Spokesman Abdullah Abdullah said the Afghan government should be at the centre of any peace talks, adding that Kabul “would prefer the Moscow meeting had a different shape.”
He warned that the Taliban — who held Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 under a strict Islamist regime which limited women’s rights and education — remain the biggest obstacle to peace in the country.
The Taliban refuse to negotiate with the government as they deem it a puppet of the United States.
Their recent resurgence has seen them retake control and contest large parts of the country, taking advantage of a deteriorating security situation.
Taliban fighters also disrupted last year’s parliamentary elections, which they said were “legitimising the stooges who are authorised by the occupying forces,” and have been engaged in fighting with government forces, launching almost daily attacks.
A Taliban statement said the Moscow meeting would “open channels to reaching an understanding with non-government Afghan political groups” and that the group would use the opportunity to clarify their position in favour of a future Islamic system of government based on shariah law.
Mr Karzai welcomed the initiative and said he was travelling with “a message of peace, unity, sovereignty and progress for all of us: the men, women and children of our beloved country.”
Tuesday 5 February 2019 01:51
Story Code: 179142 Copy text available
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