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Taliban Discusses 'Post-US' Afghanistan with Iran

Taliban Discusses 'Post-US' Afghanistan with Iran

Wednesday, 2 January, 2019 - 11:30
Members of the Taliban stand at the site of the execution of three men in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, April 18, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
Kabul – Jamal Ismail
The Afghan Taliban confirmed sending a delegation to Tehran in order to discuss the future withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and the question of regional security and stability.

“The delegation visited Tehran to share Taliban’s views on ‘post-occupation’ scenario and establishment of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region with Iranian officials,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for Taliban, said in a statement that reflected a growing confidence among the Taliban for a soon US exit from Afghanistan.

This is the second Taliban delegation to visit Iran after a round of Afghan peace talks were held in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, some two weeks ago. Mujahid didn't give away any details concerning Taliban members who visited Tehran and met with Iranian officials.

Taliban delegations publicly admitting to having visited Iran is an indicator for warming relations between the ultra-conservative Afghan movement and the Tehran cleric-led regime. Before, Iran would actively deny hosting any delegation linked to the group.

Iran’s shift in policy came a few days after US President Donald Trump announced plans to pull out troops from Afghanistan.

Tehran, threatened by an American presence in neighboring Afghanistan, a country with which it shares a land border stretching some 960 km, has actively resorted to supporting and arming the Taliban. Washington has long accused Tehran of supplying the armed group with anti-tank mines and tanks in order to target US forces in Afghanistan.

On another note, General Scott Miller, who commands US forces and the NATO-led non-combat Resolution Support (RS) mission in Afghanistan, reiterated the need for a political settlement to end the conflict.

“Peace talks [are] out there, regional players pressing for peace, the Taliban talking about peace, the Afghan government is talking about peace,” Miller told dozens of NATO soldiers who had gathered at RS headquarters in Kabul.

“As long as the Taliban want to fight we are going to fight,” said Colonel David Butler, spokesman for US Forces in Afghanistan.

He added that 2019 would bring a unique opportunity for peace in the country that has been at war on and off for almost 40 years, since US-backed Afghan guerrillas fought to repel Soviet Union forces in the late 1970s.

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