Iran’s top security official has confirmed that the country has been holding talks with the Afghan Taliban in coordination with Kabul to help relieve rampant insecurity in Afghanistan.
“The series of contacts and talks with the Taliban group have taken place with the knowledge of the Afghan government,” Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said on Wednesday. “That trend will continue.”
Shamkhani made the announcement during a one-day visit to Afghanistan at the invitation of Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan president’s national security adviser.
Addressing the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan on November 28, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on the international community to facilitate “inclusive” dialog between the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government in a bid to restore peace to the war-torn country.
The United States led an invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The invasion toppled a Taliban government that ruled over much of the country at the time; and while US-led forces continue to occupy Afghanistan, they have failed to restore security.
Zarif, who in a previous capacity famously helped with the establishment of a post-invasion government in Afghanistan in the Bonn conference in 2001, said in the Geneva conference that there was no military solution for Afghanistan and that the time had come for national reconciliation.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Shamkhani emphasized the need to establish “mechanisms based on constant consultations” and “the active participation of regional countries in security processes” to guarantee sustainable stability and growth for regional nations.
Shamkhani also hailed the constructive agreements arrived at during a one-day security conference among Iranian, Russian, Chinese, Indian, and Afghan security chiefs and advisers in Tehran in September. The security chief voiced Iran’s support for the holding of the summit’s next edition in Afghanistan.
‘Daesh expansion a serious threat’
Shamkhani also described the threat of the expansion of the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh in Afghanistan as “serious.” He called for practical measures to stop that from happening.
The SNSC chief, who is being accompanied by a delegation of ranking political, military, and security officials, will be meeting with various Afghan authorities, including President Ashraf Ghani, during his stay in Afghanistan.
US officials said last Thursday that President Donald Trump had ordered a withdrawal of nearly half of the American forces stationed in Afghanistan, although the US commander in Afghanistan later said no order had been officially received to begin such a withdrawal.
‘Iran pillar of security’
Mohib, the Afghan presidential national security adviser, said the Islamic Republic had always been “one of the main pillars of security in the region.”
“The cooperation of the two countries will undoubtedly be very effectual in resolving Afghanistan’s current security problems,” he said.
Afghanistan is Iran’s neighbor to the east, and the two countries have a long common border.
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