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Taliban political representatives held talks with Iranian FM

28 November, 2019

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The Afghan Taliban say their political representatives have held talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran on the stalled peace process.

Taliban political envoys visited Iran for the second time in nearly three months to win support of the Islamic Republic for their stance on the peace dialogue with the United States.

Head of the Taliban political office Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar travelled to Iran days after the Taliban and the American peace envoy Zalamy Khalilzad held informal talks in Qatar to explore ways for the resumption of the peace dialogue that President Donald Trump stopped in September.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that the Taliban delegation met the Iranian foreign minister and held detailed discussion on peaceful solution of the Afghan problem and the peace process.”

He tweeted that both sides talked about bilateral contacts and the problems of Afghan refugees in Iran. Iranian officials expressed resolve of maintaining cordial relations with Afghans and promised to solve problems of the refugees, he said.

Iranian state news agency IRNA reported Zarif and Taliban’s head of political office Mullah Baradar have held talks on the need to contribute to international campaign against terrorism.

“In line with Iran’s efforts to bring about peace and stability to Afghanistan, Tehran held such a meeting in continuation of negotiations between Iranian officials at the Foreign Ministry and Afghan officials including president and influential figures in that country,” the Iranian news agency said.

In the meeting, Zarif expressed Iran’s readiness to help hold Afghan-Afghan talks with participation of the government and all influential powers in that country.

Foreign Minister Zarif said that Iran is ready to develop economic and cultural cooperation with Afghanistan based on good neighborly interests.

“Iran follows a policy of encouraging all sides in Afghanistan to find a solution through dialogue to ensure security in the neighboring country after exit of foreign forces,” IRNA said.

Taliban sources told Daily Times that five members of the Taliban political negotiation team, who were freed from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, accompanied Mullah Baradar in talks with Iranian officials. They are: Khairullah Khairkhwa, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Nori, Mohammad Nabi Omari and Mohammed Fazl. They held senior positions during the Taliban rule.

Some Taliban sources say the Baradar-led delegation may have held talks with senior Taliban leaders including Ibrahim Sadr, head of the Taliban military commission and Gul Agha, who currently hold senior position in the Taliban’s financial commission.

Taliban last time visited Iran in September after President Trump abruptly called off peace process to win support for their position on the political solution to the Afghan conflict. They had also visited Russia, China and Pakistan.

Sources say that Khalilzad has wrapped up informal talks with the Taliban in Qatar as part of his efforts to revive the stalled peace process.

The informal meeting was held this week following a prisoner swap deal that was considered as a major trust building move to return to the negotiation table.

Sources said Khalilzad has floated suggestions for the reduction of the Taliban violence, including a brief ceasefire. The Taliban have rejected calls for the ceasefire and insist the US should sign the peace agreement that was finalized in August at the conclusion of ninth round.

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