TEHRAN (Dispatches) — Iranian and Taliban officials met in Tehran on Wednesday and agreed that the U.S. is provoking the continuation of war in Afghanistan.
Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told visiting Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar that the U.S. seeks to continue the war in neighboring Afghanistan.
"The U.S. strategy supports the continuation of war and bloodshed among various Afghan groups in the political spectrum,” Shamkhani said. He said the U.S. tries to blame insecurity and instability in the country on individual Afghan groups.
The U.S. signed a peace agreement with the Taliban last February, committing to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but the new Biden administration has indicated that it will review the plan.
Taliban representatives and the Afghan government earlier this month resumed peace talks in Qatar, the Persian Gulf Arab state where the insurgents maintain an office. The stop-and-go talks are aimed at ending decades of conflict. But frustration and fear have grown over a recent spike in violence, and both sides blame one another.
Baradar, who arrived Monday with a Taliban delegation, criticized the U.S. for breaking its commitments to the February deal. "We do not trust the U.S. and will fight any group that is a mercenary for the U.S.,” he said.
Occasionally, Iranian and Taliban officials meet for talks aimed at helping facilitate intra-Afghan dialogue.
Iran sees the presence of U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq as a threat on its doorstep and routinely calls for their departure. Iran and Afghanistan have some 945 kilometers (some 585 miles) of common border.
Shamkhani called on the Taliban to "cooperate with the Afghan government” in fighting the Daesh terrorism, particularly on the common borders between Iran and Afghanistan.
Iran has in recent years backed the Taliban’s inclusion in Afghanistan’s future political structure.
The delegation from the Taliban’s political bureau arrived in Tehran on Tuesday morning, with Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh saying the visit was at the invitation of the Islamic Republic.
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 Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif.
Taliban spokesman Muhammad Naeem on Tuesday said the two sides would 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 U.S. administration said it will review the deal reached between the Taliban and the Trump administration on the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
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.