Iran’s Zarif meets Taliban, calls for inclusive government

During talks with a visiting Taliban delegation, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Sunday called for the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan.

Iran’s foreign ministry said in a press release after the meeting between the Taliban delegation, led by the group’s deputy leader Mullah Ghani Baradar, and Zarif that Iran’s foreign minister welcomed the idea of the formation of an “all-inclusive government with the participation of all ethnic and political groups in Afghanistan.”

“Political decisions could not be made in a vacuum, and the formation of an all-inclusive government must take place in a participatory process and by taking into account the fundamental structures, institutions and laws, such as the Constitution,” Zarif said.

Zarif also expressed Iran’s readiness to facilitate dialogue between the Afghan government, the Taliban and other Afghan groups.

He said: “The noble people of Afghanistan have been wronged. The war and occupation of Afghanistan have dealt heavy blows to the Afghan people.”

Zarif was quoted in the statement as having expressed hope that the Taliban would focus efforts on an immediate end to the pains and problems of Afghan people, so that the establishment of peace in Afghanistan “would strip the outsiders of a pretext for occupation”.

Meanwhile the statement noted that Baradar said in the meeting that he “denounced the destructive role of ISIS (Daesh) in Afghanistan.”

He did however express “satisfaction with the process of intra-Afghan talks, and described the formation of an all-inclusive government with the participation of all ethnic and political groups as a necessary condition for the establishment of peace in Afghanistan.”

The Taliban delegation arrived in Tehran on Tuesday at the invitation of Iran for talks with Iranian officials.

On Wednesday, they held talks with Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, during which Shamkhani accused the United States of “creating a deadlock” in the intra-Afghan peace talks.

Iran’s top security official called for the “involvement of all Afghan groups” to determine the fate of their country, saying Tehran will “not recognize” any group that seeks to “seize power through war”.

The visit of the Taliban delegation to Iran comes amid a second round of intra-Afghan talks in Doha. The talks resumed earlier this month but have failed to make any headway, even as violence peaks in Afghanistan.