Taliban should adopt 'friendly' approach, says Iran

Foreign ministers of Afghanistan's neighbouring countries address meeting in Tehran

Iran's foreign minister, speaking at a meeting of Afghanistan's neighbouring countries on Wednesday, called on the Taliban to adopt a "friendly" approach.

The meeting, two months after the extremists swept to power in Kabul, brought the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to Tehran, while their Chinese and Russian counterparts joined by video link.

"It is essential that the Taliban adopts a friendly approach towards its neighbours and takes the necessary measures to assure them that there is no threat to their neighbours from Afghanistan," said Iran's Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

"I hope that we can paint a clearer picture of the realities of Afghanistan, and the expectations of the neighbouring countries most affected by the developments in that country, and develop a road map."

Afghanistan is on the cusp of a humanitarian crisis in which more than half the country could face acute food shortages this winter, UN agencies said on Monday.

Addressing the meeting by video link, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: "We must find ways to avoid a total meltdown of the Afghan economy ... and to help people survive."

Iran's First Vice-President Mohammad Mokhber warned of the impact surrounding nations faced from the situation in Afghanistan.

"If no solution is found as soon as possible to control and manage the economic crisis in Afghanistan, the crisis will certainly move beyond the borders of Afghanistan and affect its neighbours and the world," he said.

Russia echoed the sentiment. Moscow is worried about the risk of militants spilling into Central Asia from Afghanistan and bristles at the idea of the West gaining a foothold in a region that used to be part of the Soviet Union.

"We ... call on Afghanistan's neighbouring countries not to allow a military presence of US and Nato forces which plan to move there after leaving Afghan territory," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the meeting.

Iran, which shares a 900-kilometre border with Afghanistan, did not recognise the Taliban during their 1996 to 2001 stint in power.

But Tehran has appeared to soften its tough position in recent times in the name of pragmatism.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran insists on the establishment of an inclusive government with the presence and effective participation of all ethnic and religious groups in Afghanistan, based on inter-Afghan dialogue without the intervention of foreign actors," Mr Amir-Abdollahian said.

Mr Guterres pointed to the need for inclusivity "and representative government, that respects international humanitarian law".

The Taliban have formed an all-male Cabinet made up entirely of members of the group, and almost exclusively of ethnic Pashtuns. It has severely restricted women's rights to work and study, prompting widespread international condemnation.

"The Taliban must play an undeniable role in assuring security, countering terrorism and respecting the rights of diverse groups, including women," Mr Amir-Abdollahian said.

He added the Taliban must work on "providing the basic needs of Afghan citizens, putting an end to abuse of ethnic and religious minorities, eradicating the causes that led to the displacement of part of the population and respecting international law".

Updated: October 28th 2021, 4:57 AM