Taliban delegation arrives in Tehran for talks

Invited by Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Taliban delegation to discuss ‘peace’ in Afghanistan

epa08941322 An Afghan security official stands guard at the scene of an attack at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) facility in Kandahar, Afghanistan, 16 January 2021. According to security officials, National Directorate of Security (NDS) was attacked by a group of armed men on 16 January, an attack that ended shortly after it started. Violence has surged across the country in recent weeks, despite the Afghan government and the Taliban committing to be on the defensive to help the ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks that are underway in Doha.  EPA/M SADIQ
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A “political delegation” led by the Taliban’s founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Tehran on Tuesday at the invitation of the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

The Taliban will hold meetings with Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Iran's special envoy for Afghanistan, to "discuss the peace trend in Afghanistan as well as relevant issues and topics", the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

While the Afghan-based Taliban is not officially designated a terrorist organisation, the international community does not recognise it as a legitimate part of the Afghan government.

It is closely tied to the Pakistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan group, which the US has designated a Foreign Terrorist Organisation.

Afghanistan's leading English-language news outlet TOLO News said the issue of Afghan refugees in Iran would be among the topics discussed during the meeting, citing Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem.

An agreement between the US administration under former president Donald Trump and the Taliban stipulated that US troops would leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for the start of Afghan-Taliban peace talks.

But the Biden administration said it would review the US agreement – a move that was welcomed by the internationally recognised Afghan government.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the reassessment would evaluate "whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, reduce violence in Afghanistan and engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.