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Hosting intra-Afghan talks, Iran says ready to help restore peace to its neighbor

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses a session of intra-Afghan talks hosted by the ministry under his watch, in Tehran, July 7, 2021.

As Tehran hosts a round of intra-Afghan talks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tells the representatives of the Kabul government and the Taliban group that the Islamic Republic stands ready to help the neighboring country resolve its conflicts and achieve lasting peace.

In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Seyed Rasoul Mousavi, the head of the South Asia Department at Iran’s Foreign Ministry, announced that Tehran is hosting four delegations, including representatives of the Afghan government and parliament, the Taliban group and prominent figures supporting the Republic system in the war-torn country.

Taliban’s spokesman Mohammed Naeem Wardak also said via Twitter that the militant group’s trip to Tehran comes at the official invitation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He said Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the head of Taliban’s political office in Qatar’s Doha, leads the delegation to Tehran.

Meanwhile, the government’s delegation is headed by former Vice President of Afghanistan Yunus Qanuni.

Zarif: Iran ready to help advance intra-Afghan dialog

During his address at the beginning of the talks, Zarif pointed to the United States’ defeat in establishing peace in Afghanistan, saying the US military’s more than two decades of presence on Afghan soil has brought about widespread destruction.

“The United States has failed in Afghanistan…and its presence in the country for more than two decades has caused major damage in Afghanistan,” said Zarif. “Today, the people and political leaders of Afghanistan must take difficult decisions for the future of their country.”

He warned against the dire consequences of ongoing disputes in Afghanistan and said returning to the intra-Afghan negotiating table with a commitment to political solutions is the best option for the country’s leaders and political movements.

Zarif said the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to help advance the process of talks between Afghanistan’s factions in order to resolve the conflicts and crises in that country.

The chief Iranian diplomat also underscored Iran’s commitment to contributing to Afghanistan’s all-out political, economic and social development after the establishment of peace there.

Iran recent months, Iran has repeatedly voiced its support for measures aimed at establishing peace in Afghanistan.

Last week, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh underlined the necessity for an inclusive government that would involve all Afghan groups in Afghanistan, saying the Taliban represents only a part of Afghanistan, not the whole present and future status of the country.

Speaking at his weekly press conference on June 28, Khatibzadeh noted that Iran is closely and seriously monitoring the situation in Afghanistan at the high security and political levels and is negotiating with all Afghan groups.

Tehran’s peace efforts follow the withdrawal of US-led coalition forces last week from the largest military base in Afghanistan, located in the ancient city of Bagram, about 45 miles north of Kabul.

The US began its official withdrawal back in May. Since then, the Taliban militants intensified attacks across the country and managed to gain control over more than 100 of Afghanistan’s district centers.

The US military led the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 in what it proclaimed was a war on terror meant to eradicate the Taliban. Twenty years forward, however, the declared objective has not been remotely achieved.

On Friday, the Taliban said it considers the US withdrawal a “positive step” to get closer to peace and stability.

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