Militant attack kills 10 policemen in northern Afghan province

India to US Not in Favour of 'Interim' Government in Afghanistan

"It has been imported from the West and is an obstacle to peace", Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who headed the Taliban delegation, told attendees at a central Moscow hotel.

The clashes came as Taliban and Afghan opposition leaders gathered in Moscow for what organizers said would be a two-day "intra-Afghan peace meeting" to discuss recent peace building efforts in Afghanistan.

A senior Taliban official told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday that the U.S. had vowed to withdraw half of its troops from Afghanistan by April.

United States negotiators have tried to persuade the Taliban to meet Afghan officials, but Mr Stanikzai remained vague when questioned about the circumstances under which they would ever agree to do so. This latest development has further isolated the Kabul government in peace negotiations.

"What is interesting about the meeting in Moscow is that opposition politicians in the country representing all of the major opposition parties are in Moscow today talking".

Inamuddin Rahmani, Kunduz police spokesperson, claimed that the security forces had foiled the attack in which 22 Taliban fighters were killed and 18 wounded. For example, in Moscow, members of the militia said they wanted an "inclusive Islamic system" in Afghanistan with a new constitution, while they also listened to Afghan women's rights activists.

The unprecedented gathering saw the Taliban outline their vision for Afghanistan - including rules around women and the adoption of an Islamic constitution - before heavyweights, including former president Hamid Karzai, in televised talks.

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. After years of being on the fringes since the invasion of the Americans and their allies ousted them from power, the Taliban are now gaining acceptance as legitimate stakeholders in the Afghan political process.

"A group of Taliban rebels stormed the checkpoints of Local Police in Baghlan-e-Markazi district early this morning triggering a gun battle, which left 10 local police personnel killed", the official told Xinhua but declined to be named, saying authorized officials would talk to the media.

Ghani wants the peace process to be led and owned by his Government. Among those present was the first US-backed president Hamid Karzai.

Afghans living in Russian Federation are hosting the meeting between Afghan politicians and Taliban members who refuse to talk with President Ghani, one organizer Ghulam Mohammad Jalal told DW.

Karzai and other Afghan leaders were confident that the Moscow siting will pave the way for start of an intra-Afghan dialogue.

It was based on a commitment to withdraw U.S. forces from the country, and a guarantee by the Taliban not to allow worldwide jihadist groups to use Afghanistan as a base in the future.

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".

The deep divisions within the many stakeholders in Kabul highlight the difficulty of finding a negotiated end to a war that has already cost the United States more than 2,400 lives and $1 trillion.

The militant group, which is on the offensive and already controls or contests about half of territory in Afghanistan, refuses to hold talks with the authorities in Kabul until it reaches a binding deal on the pullout of foreign troops, including 14,000 from the U.S.

"The people who are in Moscow, including the Taliban and Afghan politicians, have one thing in common: they are all against Ghani", Yunus Fakur, a Kabul-based Afghan analyst, told DW.

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