Iran’s top security official Ali Shamkhani held talks on Wednesday with a Taliban delegation visiting Tehran, accusing the US of stalling the intra-Afghan peace process.
Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, during a meeting with the delegation led by Taliban deputy leader Mullah Ghani Baradar, accused the US of seeking to create a deadlock in the Afghan peace talks in Doha.
“The US does not seek peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Shamkhani told the delegation, as reported by state media. “The US strategy is to allow the war and bloodshed to continue between Afghans.”
Shamkhani, a former IRGC commander, stressed on the “involvement of all Afghan groups” to determine the fate of the war-ravaged country, stressing that Tehran will “not recognize” any group that seeks to “seize power through war” in Afghanistan.
He called on the militant group to “cooperate with the Afghan government” in fighting the Daesh/ISIS terrorism, particularly on the common borders between Iran and Afghanistan.
Mullah Baradar, for his part, pointed to former US President Donald Trump’s “lack of commitment” to the peace agreement reached between Taliban and the Afghan government last year, according to Iran’s state media.
The delegation from Taliban’s political bureau had arrived in Tehran on Tuesday morning. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the visit was at the invitation of Tehran.
The delegation will be holding meetings with senior Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Iran's special envoy for Afghanistan Ebrahim Taherianfard.
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem on Tuesday said the two sides will discuss "relations between Tehran and Kabul, issues related to Afghan refugees in Iran, and prevailing political and security situation of Afghanistan and the region”.
The visit comes amidst a second round of intra-Afghan talks in Doha and days after the new US administration said it will review the deal reached between Taliban and the Trump administration on the drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan.
The second round of marathon talks between the Afghan government negotiators and the Taliban that resumed earlier this month has made little progress, as violence peaks in Afghanistan.
Pertinently, Iran's contacts with the Taliban have increased in recent years, with the group’s senior leadership visiting Tehran and holding deliberations with Iranian officials.
The visit is the second by Mullah Baradar to Tehran in recent years. His last visit came in November 2019 during which he held extensive talks with Zarif.
Iran has in recent years backed Taliban’s inclusion in Afghanistan’s future political structure, and repeatedly called for the ouster of US forces from the country.