On Wednesday, Iran received political representatives from the Afghan government and high-ranking Taliban members from the group’s political bureau in Qatar. This is the first time that Tehran hosted intra-Afghan peace talks.
While the Afghan delegation was led by the country’s former Vice President Yunus Qanuni, the Taliban was represented by a delegation led by the head of the group’s political office in Qatar, Abbas Stanekzai.
According to reports regarding the meeting, the delegations arrived in Tehran late on Tuesday. The sources familiar with the occasion also reported that the delegations are expected to hold talks with senior political and security officials within the scope of the visit.
The spokesperson of the Taliban, Mohammad Naeem, affirmed that a high-ranking delegation headed by Abbas Stanekzai arrived in Tehran upon an official invitation. The visiting delegation will hold separate talks with Iranian officials on “bilateral issues” and negotiate with Afghan political figures on the security situation, particularly focusing on “resolving issues through talks,” Naeem said.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Director-General for West Asia, Rasoul Mousavi, announced that four delegations would be hosted throughout the week. These are a delegation of the Afghan parliament’s cultural commission, a high-level political delegation, a supervisory delegation to oversee the situation of Afghans in Iran, and a high-level delegation from Taliban’s political bureau.
The meeting between the two sides was held at Iran’s Foreign Ministry. According to the statement issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry following the meeting, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif labeled the political conflict in Afghanistan as “dangerous” and called both sides to turn back to the “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” peace process.
Reiterating that his country’s willingness to facilitate the intra-Afghan talks to bring an end to the crisis, Zarif emphasized that “tough decisions” are ahead of the Afghan leaders that must be taken.
The meeting came amid the US withdrawal from the war-torn country after 20 years and intensified Taliban violence and its seizure of many districts by the group. The increasing insecurity situation in the country has forced some countries, including Iran, to shut down their diplomatic missions in the northern Afghan province of Balkh and to relocate their diplomats to Kabul.