KABUL: Iran hosted its first intra-Afghan talks, in which political representatives from Kabul and high-ranking Taliban officials from the group’s Qatar office were present, on Wednesday, according to a statement released by the Iran foreign ministry.
Abbas Stanekzai, head of the Taliban political bureau in Qatar, led the Taliban side while former Afghan Vice President Yunus Qanooni led the Afghan government side of the talks.
During the meeting, Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif urged both sides to return to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace talks, calling the current political unrest in Afghanistan “dangerous,” according to the released statement.
Zarif expressed Iran’s readiness to help facilitate intra-Afghan talks to “resolve the crisis” and that the Afghan leaders must take some “tough decisions” critical for the future of Afghanistan.
According to sources, the delegations arrived in Tehran late on Tuesday and are set to hold talks with senior political and security officials.
Mohammad Naeem, a Taliban spokesperson, confirmed the visiting delegation is visiting Tehran “on an official invitation” to hold talks on “bilateral issues” and to “exchange views” with the Afghan delegation with a focus on “resolving issues through talks.”
Rasoul Mousavi, director-general for West Asia at Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said that Tehran is to hold four delegations this week: a delegation of Afghan parliament’s cultural commission, a high-level political delegation, a supervisory delegation to oversee the situation of Afghans in Iran, and a high-level delegation from Taliban’s political office.
This comes in the wake of an ongoing security crisis in Afghanistan, with the drawdown of US and NATO forces near completion.