Iranian ambassador meets acting Taliban foreign minister

October 26, 2021 - 10:52

TEHRAN - Bahador Aminian, Iran’s ambassador to Kabul, met on Saturday with Taliban’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

During the meeting, Ambassador Aminian said economic woes are the common foe faced by Iran and Afghanistan, Press TV reported. 

The ambassador also said Iran is ready to invest in various sectors in Afghanistan to help reconstruct the war-torn country.

Aminian’s meeting with the acting foreign minister took place as Tehran is preparing to host a conference of Afghanistan’s neighbors on Wednesday. The conference will be held at the level of foreign ministers. 

“During the meeting, Mr. Amininan said that economic challenge is our common enemy that creates turmoil, & Iran is ready to invest in energy, connectivity, mines, trade, and health sectors in Afghanistan,” the Taliban’s foreign ministry spokesman, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, wrote on his Twitter account.

The spokesman further said Muttaqi had called for particular attention to be paid to address the Afghan refugees’ issues in Iran and provide further facilities for Afghans traveling to Iran via the common border.

Iran is home to over three million Afghan refugees. The fall of the former Afghan government in mid-August has caused a sharp increase in the number of Afghan nationals seeking refuge in neighboring countries, especially Iran.

The Islamic Republic has called on the international community to take on the responsibility of attending to the needs of the Afghan refugees in Afghanistan’s neighboring countries.

The ambassador says Iran is ready to invest in energy, connectivity, mines, trade, and health sectors in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Iranian president’s special representative for Afghanistan said earlier that the stability and security of the region and Afghanistan’s neighbors depend on the current situation in Afghanistan.

“If there is stability and security in Afghanistan, stability and security will definitely be spread to other countries. This is the case with instability and insecurity and the spread of terrorism as well,” Hassan Kazemi Qomi said while in Russia to attend the third meeting of the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan.

The Taliban participated in the Moscow conference. However, it has not been invited to the meeting in Tehran. According to IRNA, Russian Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov has said that Moscow is making preparations for Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to address the meeting in Tehran. Kabulov did not say whether Lavrov would personally attend the meeting or address it virtually. 

“Everyone should help Afghanistan out of such circumstances,” Kazemi Qomi added.

Professor Paul Pillar, a nonresident senior fellow of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, tells the Tehran Times that the main concerns of countries neighboring Afghanistan and those nearby is a “possible export of extremists and extremism from Afghanistan.”

The special representative also said, “We must consider priorities and conditions, because currently Afghanistan is facing security problems and difficult conditions.” He reiterated Iran’s stance that the fate of the Afghan people must be determined by themselves, expressing hope for the formation of a government based on the will of the Afghan people.

The Taliban were in power from 1996 to 2001, before they were overthrown by the U.S. government in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Iran hopes that the Taliban’s behavior after regaining power would be different from the last period, repeatedly calling for the formation of an all-inclusive government that secures the rights of all ethnic and religious groups and women.

On September 17, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). It specified the importance of “equal and meaningful participation” of women in public life.  The resolution also emphasizes “the importance of the establishment of an inclusive and representative government.”

Meanwhile, a senior UN official has warned that millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken to pull Afghanistan back from the brink of collapse, Al Jazeera reported on Monday. 

The World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley told Reuters news agency that 22.8 million people – more than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million population – were facing acute food insecurity and “marching to starvation” compared with 14 million just two months ago.

Beasley called for frozen funds to be freed for humanitarian efforts.

“Children are going to die. People are going to starve. Things are going to get a lot worse,” he said in Dubai.

“I don’t know how you don’t have millions of people, and especially children, dying at the rate we are going with the lack of funding and the collapsing of the economy.”

Afghanistan was plunged into crisis in August after Taliban fighters drove out a Western-backed government, prompting donors to hold back billions of dollars in assistance for the aid-dependent economy.

The food crisis, exacerbated by climate change, was dire in Afghanistan even before the takeover by the Taliban, whose new administration has been blocked from accessing assets held overseas as nations grapple with how to deal with the group.

“What we are predicting is coming true much faster than we anticipated. Kabul fell faster than anybody anticipated and the economy is falling faster than that,” Beasley said.

He said dollars earmarked for development assistance should be repurposed for humanitarian aid, which some nations have already done, or frozen funds be channelled through the agency.

“You’ve got to unfreeze these funds so people can survive.”

The UN food agency needs up to $220m a month to partially feed the nearly 23 million vulnerable people as winter nears.

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