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Zarif holds talks with Chinese envoy over developments in Afghanistan

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)
Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif with China’s special representative for Afghanistan affairs Yue Xiaoyong in Tehran on August 16, 2021. (Photo by Mehr News Agency)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has held talks with China’s special representative for Afghanistan affairs Yue Xiaoyong in Tehran over the latest developments in the Central Asian nation in the wake of Taliban's takeover of the capital Kabul. 

The appointment of Yue, a former Chinese envoy to Qatar, Jordan and Ireland, comes as Beijing has stepped up its diplomatic engagement in Afghanistan following the drawdown of US-led allied troops from Afghanistan.

The meeting between Zarif and Yue came less than 24 hours after the Taliban laid siege to Kabul, forcing the sitting Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to flee to an undisclosed location.

The unfolding events have led to chaos and confusion, with thousands of Afghan civilians and diplomats swarming Kabul airport to take evacuation flights.

At least five people were killed on Monday as US forces opened fire at Afghans desperately trying to board the flights. The US military has taken over security of the airport to evacuate American diplomats.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has started wide-ranging consultations with countries in the region to ensure a peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan and to prevent further chaos and commotion.

Tehran has repeatedly emphasized the need for dialogue among different Afghan political and ethnic groups and the formation of an “inclusive” government to resolve the country's crisis.

On Sunday, Zarif welcomed the formation of a coordination council in Kabul to oversee the political transition. In a tweet, the outgoing foreign minister hoped that it can lead to “dialogue and a peaceful transition” in Afghanistan.

“Violence and war — like occupation — never solve problems,” Zarif said, declaring that Iran “stands ready to continue its peacemaking efforts”.

Iran had recently hosted intra-Afghan talks in Tehran, which saw the participation of high-profile representatives from both the Afghan government and the Taliban’s political bureau in Doha.

On Monday, Iran’s newly-elected President Ebrahim Raeisi expressed readiness to cooperate in efforts toward restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Raeisi stressed that the US military defeat and withdrawal from Afghanistan should be an “opportunity to restore life, security and lasting peace” in the country.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday announced that Iranian diplomats have vacated at least three of the five missions in Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, and Kandahar, while staff at the embassy in Kabul has been downsized over security developments in recent days.

Iran, which shares a 921-kilometer (572-mile) border with Afghanistan and is home to more than three million Afghan refugees, is likely to be affected by insecurity and instability in the neighboring country.

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