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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

Iran says they held Taliban talks as Afghan peace push continues

The talks would be the first publicly acknowledged meeting between Tehran and the Afghan militants

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, head of the Taliban’s political council, takes part in the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow. Reuters
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, head of the Taliban’s political council, takes part in the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow. Reuters

Iran says it has met with the Afghan Taliban, one of Tehran's top security officials said on Wednesday, shortly after the militants returned from peace talks in the UAE.

The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani made the claim while visiting Kabul on Wednesday morning, Tasnim news agency reports.

"The Afghan government has been informed of the communications and talks carried out with the Taliban, and this process will continue," said Mr Shamkhani, according to Tasnim.

It is not clear where the said talks took place or what was discussed, but Mr Shamkhani arrived in Kabul for talks with the government on Wednesday morning.

Tasnim reported the talks were "to help settle the existing security problems in Afghanistan."

The Iranian official also warned of the threat from ISIS, calling the group an “ominous plot sponsored by the US and regional reactionary” regimes, without providing evidence.

He also said he wanted to increase the number of border posts on the Afghanistan-Iran border.

Mr Shamkhani will meet his Afghan counterpart, President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

The visit will be aimed at promoting co-operation between the two countries to combat terrorism, narcotics and organised crime, Tasnim said.

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Earlier this month, the Taliban held peace talks with the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Abu Dhabi where they focussed on confidence-building measures aimed at ending the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

The Taliban refused to meet directly with the Afghan government led by Mr Ghani.

Iran has previously been accused of being too close to the Taliban. According to Abas Aslani, a reporter for Tasnim, the recent meeting was the first time talks had been acknowledged between Iran and the Taliban.

In October, the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council imposed sanctions on two Iranian Quds Force officers and seven others for providing financial and military support to the group.

“Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the time.

In November, the US displayed remnants of what it said were Iranian weapons supplied to militants in Afghanistan. Iran denies supplying arms to the Taliban. The US move was designed to pressure Tehran to limit its regional activities.

Updated: December 26, 2018 04:09 PM

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