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Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was present, but the Afghan government was not part of the talks.

For years the refusal of the USA to meet with Taliban officials has prevented any negotiation.

The militant group refuses to talk to the government, calling it illegitimate.

But they came a day after President Donald Trump told Americans his administration had accelerated talks for a political settlement in Afghanistan and would be able to reduce U.S. troops there as negotiations advance to end America's longest war. "They can say what they want, but who are they representing?"

Sources close to the Taliban have meanwhile said changes to the team could help the process.

A ceasefire and the withdrawal of thousands of USA -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops is on the table after Washington secured earlier assurances from the Taliban that they would not allow groups such as al Qaeda and Islamic State to attack the United States and its allies.

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Officials in Kabul have suggested the discussions in Russian Federation are an attempt by political rivals to undermine the Afghan government, and explore a potential deal with the Taliban without their input. This should have been self-evident because Trump's foreign policy is all about prioritizing USA interests instead of "taking one for the team" and "doing favors" for its worldwide "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.

President Ghani's supporters have accused the opposition leaders of rushing to peace talks with Taliban to push their own political agendas ahead of elections.

In the Kunduz attack, the Taliban stormed the base, located on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Kunduz city, around 2 a.m., said Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, head of the provincial council.

Although it is a good omen that the Taliban are taking part in intra-Afghan talks, the question remains: If the government in Kabul is not directly involved, do the talks, or for that matter, the government, have any legitimacy? "Until now we did not agree", the Taliban official said.

A top United States general also said that Kabul must be involved in talks if a push for a peace deal is to be successful.

"We can find a complete peace in Afghanistan".

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Many of those American allies later became the Taliban - enemies of the United States when the Americans made a decision to invade Afghanistan.

The Taliban is seeking the pullout of all foreign troops from Afghanistan within months, a senior official said, as the fundamentalist Islamic movement reached out to opponents of USA -backed President Ashraf Ghani at talks in Moscow.

One outcome of reduced US leverage is a greater role for Moscow, which has worked behind the scenes to solidify influence in Afghanistan.

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

In early February, Russia invited Taliban representatives and members of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's political opposition to talks in Moscow, potentially signaling Russia's attempt to insert itself in Kabul's affairs as a legitimate stakeholder in negotiated settlement. "Let hundreds of such meetings be held, but these would only be paper (agreements) unless there is an agreement by the Afghan government; Afghanistan's national assembly and Afghanistan's legal institutions", he stressed.

The Taliban has been carrying out bloody attacks against civilians and security forces with hundreds killed since the beginning of the year alone.

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The daytime high was 43 degrees warmer than Friday's high temperature - a remarkable increase for a 72-hour period. As temperatures rise during the day Wednesday any lingering showers will switch to plain rain with ice melting.


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