Taliban sit for 2nd day with Afghan leaders in Moscow

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(Moscow) – The Taliban entered a second day of unprecedented talks with powerful Afghan politicians in Moscow, sidestepping the Kabul government as it pursues a leading stake in the war-torn country.

The rare public appearance that kicked off a day before saw Taliban officials spell out their vision for Afghanistan in front of rolling cameras and a host of political heavyweights, including former president Hamid Karzai.

The insurgents went around President Ashraf Ghani and sat down with his chief rivals for an extraordinary meeting that saw Karzai and other sworn enemies of the Taliban praying with the militants.

No government official was invited, despite Ghani´s offers to talk peace, underscoring the Taliban´s hostility toward the increasingly marginalised Kabul administration.

The Moscow meet comes a week after the Taliban held separate talks toward ending 17 years of fighting with American negotiators in Doha, where Ghani was again not invited to the table.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday described those talks as “constructive” and voiced cautious hope for a negotiated end to America´s longest war.

The Taliban claimed Wednesday that the United States agreed in Doha to withdraw half its ground troops by the end of April — and the process had begun.