Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Islamic Republic supports peace talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban militant group as well as the agreements reached between the two sides.
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Zarif made the remarks on Sunday in a meeting with Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), who is in Tehran to hold talks with senior Iranian officials during an official three-day visit.
During the meeting, Zarif emphasized Iran’s support for the Islamic government in Afghanistan and an Afghan-led peace process, while hailing Abdullah's role in the country's politics and emphasizing that Iran supports the Taliban's participation in the Afghan political arena.
Abdullah, for his part, briefed Iran's top diplomat on the latest developments in his country and the latest situation of intra-Afghan talks.
Abdullah is also scheduled to meet with President Hassan Rouhani, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Secretary of Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani during his visit.
Prior to his trip to Iran, he visited Pakistan and India in efforts to win regional support for the intra-Afghan talks.
Negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban group began in the Qatari capital city of Doha on September 12 to end decades of conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.
At the end of his three-day visit to Pakistan on September 30, the top Afghan negotiator said the government in Kabul and the Taliban were nearing a compromise on major issues of contention.
He said that after several small-group meetings in Doha, the issue of the Hanafi school of thought had been resolved “to a large extent.”
Both sides have provisionally agreed “to recognize the principal issue of Hanafi’s role without any discrimination to Shia communities or minorities, so… the compromise is around that,” Abdullah said.
The Taliban had insisted on strict adherence to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, but the Afghan government’s negotiating team worried that it could be used to discriminate against the Shia community and other religious minorities.
Among other obstacles in the negotiations is the extent to which the Taliban recognize the legitimacy of the Kabul government under a future deal.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi in July said Tehran was ready to help the Afghan government advance the peace process.
In a meeting with Afghanistan’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Hanif Atmar in Kabul, Araqchi expressed hope that the intra-Afghan talks would soon kick off with the participation of all political factions.