Broad agreement reached in Moscow meeting on Afghanistan, gov't denies U.S. troops withdrawal

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-07 19:51:56|Editor: xuxin
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KABUL, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- A two-day peace meeting in Moscow has called for full withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Afghanistan, a plan the Taliban said would pave the way for ensuring lasting peace in the country, local media Tolo News TV reported Thursday, quoting a joint declaration issued by Taliban representatives and Afghan politicians late Wednesday.

A number of key Afghan political parties and politicians and a delegation from the Qatar-based Taliban political office attended the two-day peace meeting, which ended late Wednesday, according to the report.

The meeting was held without the presence of Afghan government officials, as the negotiations were held by Russia-based Afghan associations.

The participants agreed on protection of social, economic, political and educational rights of women and freedom of speech in line with the Islamic principles and efforts to attract international assistance for the reconstruction of the country's infrastructures.

In order to promote an intra-Afghan dialogue to find a political solution to the ongoing conflict, the meeting outlined a nine-point declaration, according to which the two sides unanimously agreed to soon hold the next round of talks in Qatar, where Taliban's political office is based.

Issues agreed on the meeting also included continuation of a regular intra-Afghan peace dialogue, supporting Qatar talks and considering the talks a positive step towards ending war, bringing systematic reforms in all national institutions including security sector after signing peace deal, necessity of the regional and the major countries cooperation to determine a lasting and inclusive peace in Afghanistan, among others.

Releasing Taliban inmates who have completed their prison terms, removal of Taliban leaders' name from the UN blacklist and continuation of operation of Taliban political office in Qatar aimed at acceleration of peace talk, have also been discussed and agreed on.

The Afghan government has not reacted to the outcome of the meeting so far, but earlier in the week President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said the politicians attending the Moscow talks had no executive power and were not officially representing the country.

The Afghan government has frequently said that it supported any peace efforts anywhere in Afghanistan or abroad.

Both Afghan and U.S. government have denied a specific timetable for foreign troops withdrawal from Afghanistan following U.S.-Taliban talks in Qatar late last month, unless peace was restored in the country.

"In recent days, I've heard some individual Taliban officials claim we have a troop withdrawal timetable for Afghanistan... No troop withdrawal timetable exists," U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted earlier on Thursday.

President Ghani also said that during his telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday, he was assured that "military unity" would exist between the United States and Afghanistan, until a lasting peace is restored in Afghanistan.

"Taliban will start negotiation with Afghan government in next summit soon. It's a great progress," Abdul Satar Saadat, Afghan president's former legal advisor and former Chairman of Afghan Independent Electoral Complaints Commission tweeted earlier on the day.