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Taliban in Iran for diplomatic influence on peace process

AT News

KABUL: A Taliban delegation headed by Mullah Abdullah Ghani Baradar, the deputy political chief and head of the political office of the Taliban in Qatar, has once again visited Iran, and has held talks with the Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif in Tehran.

Iran’s state TV says a delegation of the Taliban visited Tehran and discussed efforts to bring a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s 18-year war. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif held talks with a Taliban delegation in a bid to facilitate returning of peace to the neighboring country. Both sides discussed Afghan-related issues and Zarif expressed Tehran’s readiness to help facilitate intra-Afghan dialogue.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen in a tweet said that the meeting was took place on Tuesday. While rare, these are not the first talks between the Taliban and Iranian officials.

U.S. Taliban peace talks were collapsed in September. In the following weeks, a Taliban delegation traveled to Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan. But since the Afghan government released three Taliban prisoners, including the notorious one, Anas Haqqani, in return of two foreign professors, President Trump said that his administration is current working in an agreement with the Taliban group. Previously he called off the meeting, saying the Taliban don’t have desire to end the war.

However, the Taliban still insisting in their demands of not meeting officials from Afghan government, but can hold talks with government employee in personnel capacity. The group time and again rejected direct talks with the Afghan government.

A former Taliban member, Mullah Salaam Zaeef, has said that Taliban opposed the list of negotiations prepared by the government in the long-awaited intra-Afghan peace conference between the Taliban and prominent politicians to be held in Beijing, the capital city of China.

Moreover, a political commentator, Shahzada Masoud, said that China meeting has been triggered into deadlock. “I don’t think it will be held very soon due to opposition of the Taliban to the government lists of participations.”

However, the government said the decision to release three Taliban prisoners was made in order to pave ground for face-to-face negotiations with the Taliban group—an expectation that so far ruled out by the Taliban. A Kabul-based analyst, who wished not to named, said Taliban’s visit to Iran has indicated that the group is pushing for diplomatic influence on the Afghan peace process aimed at taking more leverage form the US. This could also deter the indirect US efforts because Washington and Tehran going through tense situations, and anytime President Trump can be raged and can put a complete halt to the peace approach with the Taliban. “Such travel could spark US anger, which is not good for the peace talks,” he added.

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