High-ranking Taliban delegation arrives in Iran
A high-ranking Taliban delegation arrived in Iran on Tuesday for talks with Iranian officials regarding the Afghan peace process, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said that the Taliban had been formally invited by the Iranian government in order to “review the Afghan peace process”.
He added that the meeting was ““part of Tehran’s policy to reach out to key Afghan parties in the Afghan peace process.”
The Taliban delegation is headed by the Islamist insurgent group’s deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Khatibzadeh said that they will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif.
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said that the two sides will discuss "relations between Tehran and Kabul, issues related to Afghan refugees in Iran, and prevailing political and security situation of Afghanistan and the region,” the Anadolu news agency reported
The Taliban visit comes as the insurgent group engages in a second round of talks with the Afghan government, and as the Biden administration says it is reviewing a deal reached between the Taliban and the US under former President Donald Trump.
Little progress has been made in the intra-Afghan talks and violent incidents are ongoing in Afghanistan.
Mullah Ghani Baradar previously visited Tehran to meet with Zarif in 2019.
While Iran has a history of enmity towards the Taliban – who persecuted Afghan Shias when they ruled Afghanistan before 2001 and killed eleven Iranian diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998 – Tehran has in recent years supported the Taliban’s inclusion in the Afghan political process and backed the movement’s demand for a withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan.
In an interview with the Tehran Times on Tuesday, Iranian MP Ahmad Naderi said that the “new generation of the Taliban is different from the previous generation”.
He said that while the previous generation was marked by “brutality and violence”, the Taliban were currently a “deep-rooted” and “genuine” movement, noting approvingly that they had severed what he described as their religious links with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s rival in the Gulf region.