Khalilzad ‘would welcome’ talks with Iran to help end conflict

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said Thursday Washington had offered to meet with Iran in a bid to garner their assistance to end the war in Afghanistan.

Speaking at a virtual discussion by the US Institute of Peace, Khalilzad said he would welcome talks with Afghanistan’s neighbor but said Tehran wanted to keep the US “entangled” in the conflict.

“Iran would like to keep us entangled in a conflict without winning or losing but paying a high price in Afghanistan until there is an agreement between the US and Iran,” Khalilzad said.

“But we have offered to meet with Iranians on this issue, that they should join various forums where we are there and they are there, to discuss the future of Afghanistan,” he said.

However, Khalilzad warned that the US would target any Iran-backed groups that took “action against” America and that Washington is monitoring them closely.

Khalilzad also said that there was “no viable path” to a military victory in Afghanistan.

But Khalilzad noted that plans to downsize the number of US troops in Afghanistan, before a complete withdrawal, was all conditional.

Iran has denounced the agreement negotiated by Khalilzad between the US and the Taliban, which envisions a US troops withdrawal by April next year. Iran has accused Washington of legitimizing the Taliban.