Iranian diplomat suggests closing eyes to the past and looking to the future in Afghanistan

July 18, 2021 - 20:52

TEHRAN – An Iranian Foreign Ministry official said on Saturday that Afghanistan has no option other than dialogue, common understanding, compromise, forgiveness, and “closing eyes to the past and looking into the future.”

Rasoul Mousavi, director-general of the West Asia Department in the Foreign Ministry, said he has just “returned home from Kabul” and is “more concerned than ever about what is happening in Afghanistan.”

Writing on his Twitter account, Mousavi said, “Opportunities pass like clouds. The opportunity of peace must be taken today, not tomorrow, as it might be late.”

Mousavi travelled to Kabul on Thursday and Friday for talks with several senior officials of Afghanistan, including Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah.

Iran hosted talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban on July 8 and 9.

At the second day of the meeting, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif urged the two sides to put an end to the decades-long war in Afghanistan.

Zarif advised the sides that “showing courage in peace is more important than showing courage in war.”

“Showing courage in peace is more important than showing courage in war; because to achieve peace, one must sacrifice and forgive and ignore maximum demands and [instead] heed the demands of the other side, especially in these negotiations where ... both sides are brothers and in pursuit of peace and well-being of the Afghan nation,” Zarif told the final session of the talks.

On the first day of the meeting on July 8, 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 is planning to host a second meeting between the Afghan government and other Afghan groups to bring peace to the war-torn Afghanistan.

The meeting titled "Afghanistan, Sustainable Peace and Security" is initiated by Iran and hosted by the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening. The conference will start on Monday, July 19, with a speech by Ali Akbar Velayati, secretary-general of the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening.

The summit will be attended by various Afghan and international groups and parties influential in the Afghan peace process.

Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban met in Doha for talks on Saturday, AFP correspondents said, as violence rages in the country with foreign forces almost entirely withdrawn.

The two sides have been meeting on and off for months in the Qatari capital, but the talks have lost momentum as the insurgents have made battlefield gains.

Several high-ranking officials, including Abdullah, gathered in a luxury hotel on Saturday after morning prayers. They were joined by negotiators from the Taliban’s political office in Doha.

Former president Hamid Karzai had also been due to travel to Doha but remained in Kabul, according to a source.

“The high-level delegation is here to talk to both sides, guide them and support the (government) negotiating team in terms of speeding up the talks and have progress,” said Najia Anwari, the spokeswoman for the Afghan government negotiating team in Doha.

“We expect that it (will) speed the talks and in a short time, both sides will reach a result and we will witness a durable and dignified peace in Afghanistan,” she told AFP.

The Taliban have capitalized on the last stages of the withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops from Afghanistan to launch a series of lightning offensives across the country.

“We are ready for dialogue, for talks and negotiations, and our priority is to solve the problems through dialogue,” Taliban spokesman Muhamad Naeem told the Al Jazeera broadcaster ahead of Saturday’s talks.

“The other side must have a true and sincere will to end the problems.”

Pakistan on Saturday partially reopened its side of the southern border crossing with Afghanistan, shut after the Taliban seized control of the strategic Afghan frontier town of Spin Boldak from government forces last week.

Muhammad Tayyab, a local paramilitary official, said the decision was taken because of “relative calm on the other side”, but that the crossing would remain closed to trade.

The Taliban have also tightened their grip on the north, with clashes continuing Saturday in the stronghold of infamous warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, that borders Turkmenistan.

Also on Saturday, the French government flew out around 100 of its citizens and Afghans working for the embassy from the capital, as security deteriorated, a French diplomatic source said.

Several other countries including India, China, Germany and Canada have flown out their citizens or told them to leave in recent days.

There have been weeks of intensifying fighting across Afghanistan, with the Taliban pressing multiple offensives and overrunning dozens of districts at a staggering rate.

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