Taliban, Iran hold talks, accuse US of pushing war in Afghanistan

Published January 28, 2021
In this May 28 file photo, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, third from left, arrives with other members of the Taliban delegation for talks in Moscow, Russia. — AP
In this May 28 file photo, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, third from left, arrives with other members of the Taliban delegation for talks in Moscow, Russia. — AP

TEHRAN: Iranian and Taliban officials met in Tehran on Wednesday and accused the US of provoking the continuation of war in Afghanistan, Iranian State TV reported.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told visiting Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar that the US seeks to continue the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

The US strategy supports the continuation of war and bloodshed among various Afghan groups in the political spectrum, Shamkhani was quoted as saying. He said the US tries to blame insecurity and instability in the country on individual Afghan groups.

There was no immediate comment from the US, which signed a peace agreement with the Taliban last February and met its goal this month of reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan to about 2,500.

Taliban representatives and the Afghan government earlier this month resumed peace talks in Qatar, the Gulf Arab state where the insurgents maintain an office.

The stop-and-go talks are aimed at ending decades of conflict. But frustration and fear have grown over a recent spike in violence, and both sides blame one another.

Baradar, who arrived on Monday with a Taliban delegation, criticised the US for allegedly breaking its commitments to the February deal. He did not elaborate.

“We do not trust the US and will fight any group that is a mercenary for the US,” he said.

Occasionally, Iranian and Taliban officials meet for what Tehran says are talks aimed at helping facilitate intra-Afghan dialogue.

Iran sees the presence of US forces in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq as a threat on its doorstep and routinely calls for their departure. Iran and Afghanistan have some 945 kilometres (some 585 miles) of common border.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2021

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