Iran hosts intra-Afghan talks, says Afghans must take ‘tough decisions’

July 8, 2021 - 1:56

TEHRAN — In its relentless efforts to broker peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban, high-ranking Afghan delegates comprised of the Taliban and government representatives have visited Tehran for negotiations.

The intra-Afghan talks began on Wednesday morning by a speech from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. 

The delegates have visited Tehran upon Iran’s invitation.

Pointing to the U.S. failure in Afghanistan after 20 years of invasion, Zarif said it is essential that Afghans take “tough decisions” for the future of their nation. 

“Today the people and political leaders of Afghanistan must take tough decisions for the future of their country,” Zarif told the delegates. 

Zarif warned that continuation of conflicts between the government and the Taliban will have “unfavorable” consequences for Afghanistan, noting that a return to the intra-Afghan negotiations is the “best solution”. 

Zarif also said Iran is firm to wholeheartedly help Afghanistan politically and economically after the establishment of peace in the country.

The high-ranking political delegation representing the Afghan government is headed by Yunus Qanouni and the Taliban team is headed by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai. 

Stanikzai is the head of the Taliban's political office in Doha.

Zarif: ‘Iran stands with our Afghan brethren’

Writing on his Twitter page, Foreign Minister Zarif said Iran is happy to host talks between the representatives from the Afghan government and the Taliban, calling them Iran’s “brethren”.

“Honored to be host of cordial & substantive dialog between senior Afghan reps. As foreign forces leave Afghanistan, no impediment remains for Afghans of all political stripes to chart a peaceful & prosperous future for the next generation. Iran stands with our Afghan brethren,” Zarif tweeted.

Iran has held numerous meetings with the Taliban officials and the Afghan government to broker peace between the two sides. The case in point is the negotiations between Iranian ambassador to Doha Hamid Dehghani and the Taliban delegation. 

After the assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on November 27, 2020, a few members of the Taliban’s political office in Doha came to express their condolences over the tragic and cowardly assassination of the scientist to the ambassador. Dehghani then hosted a high-ranking political delegate from the Taliban’s office in Doha, triggering Iran’s efforts to mediate between the two sides in Afghanistan. 

Two months later, upon the invitation of Foreign Minister Zarif, top Taliban politicians headed by Mullah Abdolghani Baradar came to Iran to start a fresh round of negotiations. At the time, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that the visit was made to consult with Zarif and his special envoy for Afghanistan, Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard. 

Iran has been mediating between the Afghanistan government and Taliban at different levels. 

At a meeting held during the Antalya Diplomacy Forum on June 20, Zarif, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar emphasized the need for active cooperation between countries to help the peace process and cooperate against terrorism in Afghanistan and the wider region. 

The three ministers issued a joint statement at the end of the meeting.

“On the occasion of the trilateral meeting, the three foreign ministers reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance solidarity and cooperation among the peoples of the three countries based on deep-rooted historical, religious and cultural commonalities and shared values that will serve to strengthen peace, stability, prosperity and cooperation in the region, underlined their commitment to further expand cooperation particularly in the areas that would contribute to economic progress and sustainable development,” the statement said.

In line with continuation of Tehran’s efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan, who has had made several visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan, held talks with Foreign Minister Atmar on June 28.

In his recent visit to Pakistan, Taherian Fard stressed the importance of a plan to hold a trilateral meeting among foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan as well as the need to boost relations between the three countries.

At the meeting, the Afghan foreign minister stressed the need to expand bilateral and multilateral relations with Iran.

Expressing his approval over holding a tripartite meeting among Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Atmar stressed that such a meeting will be useful in strengthening regional consensus in the efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

The Iranian diplomat had met with Foreign Minister Atmar and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation, before heading to Pakistan. During the meetings, the current developments in Afghanistan were discussed and the two sides stressed the need to continue consultations. It is worth mentioning that Taherian paid a visit to Islamabad on June 23 at the invitation of Mohammad Sadegh Khan, the special envoy of the prime minister of Pakistan for Afghanistan.

Iran has doubled down on its diplomatic efforts to achieve peace in neighboring Afghanistan as the conflict has intensified between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The Afghanistan crisis has been a main issue for Iranian officials. Ali Rabiei, the government spokesman, said on June 29 that the Taliban is part of Afghanistan and a part of its future solution.

“What is important for us is the formation of an inclusive government with the presence of all Afghan groups and the achievement of a peaceful and lasting solution in this country,” he noted.

He added that the Islamic Republic is closely monitoring developments in Afghanistan and is following the recent moves with concern. 

“While calling on all parties to calm down, we do not consider the use of violence and non-peaceful behaviors useful in resolving disputes, and we will continue our consultations with Kabul to end unconstructive conflicts and replace dialogue and engagement with the participation of all influential political groups,” the spokesman underlined.

Rabiei said the Islamic Republic continues to urge all countries not to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. 

“Our mission is to communicate with the Afghan government and provide any necessary assistance,” Rabiei highlighted.

'Russia won’t hesitate to stabilize Afghanistan if needed’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that the Afghanistan crisis could rapidly "worsen," while noting that Russia will not hesitate to help "if needed".

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on Monday that Moscow will help the poor former Soviet republic deal with the impact of NATO's withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan if necessary. 

Rakhmon has ordered the mobilization of 20,000 military reserve personnel to strengthen the border between his country and Afghanistan, after more than 1,000 Afghan security personnel have fled the border due to an offensive by Taliban militants.  

Lavrov, who was visiting Laos on Wednesday, said Russia is ready to use its military base in Tajikistan, which is one of its largest overseas, to ensure the safety of its allies in the region.

Tajikistan was part of the Soviet Union before the breakup in 1991.

As it has been repeatedly said by the Iranian officials, the Afghan crisis can be resolved only through intra-Afghan talks. Armed conflict will only result in worsening the situation. It seems that the Taliban has agreed to negotiate as well, when they said they will put forward a peace plan in one month. 



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