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Iran denies supporting ‘Taliban terrorist group’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Bahram Qassemi, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry

Iran has denied a claim by the “Taliban terrorist group” that the outfit has “relations” with the Islamic Republic.​

A Sunday report by Asharq Al-Awsat cited Mullah Zabihullah, a spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan, as saying that the group had established “relations and new networks” with Iran.

The report cited Zabihullah as saying, “The movement is trying to benefit from all legitimate means to reach a regional agreement as part of the war against the American invasion... [and] holds ongoing networks with a large number of regional and neighboring states.”

There was no mentioning of the name of Iran in the only direct quote by Mullah Zabihullah regarding Iran in the report by Asharq Al-Awsat, which is owned by a Saudi Arabian businessman and a member of the Saudi royal family.

Speaking on Monday, Bahram Qassemi, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said the claim is “a pre-meditated attempt” by “the terrorist-nurturing sponsors of the terrorist group” of Taliban, to trigger Iranophobic perceptions.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always had a pioneering role among regional countries in the fight against terrorist groups, and has so far sustained much material and immaterial costs in the fight against those groups,” Qassemi said.

The claim that Iran is supporting the Taliban group is “an obvious lie,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan prior to a US-led invasion of the country in 2001. The then-Taliban regime was not recognized by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, was one of the only three countries that did recognize the Taliban as the then-rulers of the Asian country.

Qassemi said the anti-Iran claim is a “spiteful attempt to distract the public opinion of the world away from the Al Saud crimes of massacring the innocent people of Yemen.”

Saudi Arabia has been waging war on Yemen since March 2015. The UN said back in August that the war had killed 10,000 people until then.

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