Iran hosts Taliban for Afghan talks

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday confirmed a Taliban delegation’s visit to Iran. “We meet with different Afghan groups with the aim of establishing peace in Afghanistan; and the recent visit was in this framework,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting while confirming his Tuesday’s meeting with the Afghan delegation.

A Taliban delegation headed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy political chief and head of the political office of the Taliban in Qatar, held a meeting with Foreign Minister Zarif on Tuesday in Tehran. The Iranian minister pointed to Tehran’s readiness to help establish and boost intra-Afghan talks with the participation of the Afghan government and all other influential political groups.

The meeting was held in continuation of Tehran’s efforts to return peace and stability to Afghanistan and aimed to persuade different groups to engage in Afghan-Afghan talks, promote dialogue as a solution to differences, and support all Afghan forces to cooperate for establishing security in the country after the withdrawal of foreign forces. According to IRNA, during the meeting, Zarif said that Iran is ready to expand cooperation with the Afghans based on mutual interests.

The Taliban have refused to talk to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government, denouncing it as a US puppet. Last week, the Taliban released American and Australian university professors held hostage for more than three years, completing a delayed prisoner swap and raising hopes for a revival of peace talks.

Iran also held talks with a delegation from Afghanistan’s Taliban in September, a week after peace talks between the United States and the insurgents collapsed.

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