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Afghan prez says his govt must be 'decision-maker' in any peace deal

KABUL: Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said on Tuesday no peace deal between the Taliban and the United States could be finalised with out involving his executive as "the decision-maker".

Ghani's executive has up to now been close out of the evolving peace talks between Taliban negotiators and US envoys to end greater than 17 years of battle, with the hardline Islamist movement branding his executive a US puppet.

He made his remarks in a tv interview as Afghan opposition politicians, including his predecessor Hamid Karzai, met Taliban representatives in Moscow.

"At the end of any peace deal, the decision-maker will be the government of Afghanistan," Ghani informed TOLO News, the rustic's biggest non-public tv station.

"No power in the country can dissolve the government," said Ghani, who added he was ready to "stand and defend our country".

"Rest assured that no one can push us aside," he said.

With all sides hailing progress in talks in Qatar last month, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is because of meet Taliban representatives there once more on Feb. 25.

Ghani's comments were one of the most extensive since he met Khalilzad in Kabul last week after the newest round of talks.

He said on Twitter early on Wednesday he had won assurances through phone from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Washington's dedication to an "enduring partnership" with Afghanistan.

Their army partnership was "unwavering" and would remain till an enduring and inclusive peace was accomplished, he said.

US President Donald Trump referred to the peace talks in his annual State of the Union cope with on Tuesday, describing the talks as "constructive" and that Washington would have the ability to reduce the collection of US troops and concentrate on counter-terrorism efforts as they made progress.

"We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement - but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace," Trump said.

Ceasefire, withdrawal

US officers say any withdrawal is contingent on a ceasefire - one thing the Taliban insists on going down first - and that the movement should be prepared to go into talks with the Afghan executive to lend a hand create a durable peace.

After two years of intensified attacks through the Taliban on the Afghan executive, army and international forces, they now control or contest nearly half of the districts throughout Afghanistan.

A ceasefire and the withdrawal of hundreds of US-led Nato troops is on the table after Washington secured previous assurances from the Taliban that they would not allow groups akin to al-Qaida and Islamic State to assault the United States and its allies.

Western diplomats and safety advisers imagine a swift international pullout would put the stretched Afghan forces underneath serious pressure.

"The Taliban said they are ready to sever ties with al-Qaida and the Islamic State, and this is a good development," Ghani said.

A US basic informed a Senate hearing shortly earlier than Ghani's interview was broadcast that the talks were of their early phases and the Afghan executive would must be a part of any negotiated solution.

"I would characterise where we are in the process as very, very early in the process," US General Joseph Votel, head of the USA army's Central Command, informed a Senate hearing.

Votel also said the United States would need to continue to make stronger Afghan safety forces financially even supposing US troops withdrew.

The United States has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan as a part of the Nato-led Resolute Support undertaking and a separate counter-terrorism effort in large part directed at groups akin to al-Qaida and Islamic State.

Some 8,000 troops from 38 different countries also take part in Resolute Support.

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