TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iran’s Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif says democratic achievements made in Afghanistan over the past two decades should be preserved as a means to help establish sustainable peace, reiterating once again that Tehran fully supports an all-inclusive diplomatic process aimed at achieving peace in the war-ravaged country.
In a phone call on Friday night, Zarif and his Afghan counterpart Muhammad Haneef Atmar discussed mutual relations and the latest developments surrounding Afghanistan’s peace process.
The Afghan foreign minister hailed relations between Tehran and Kabul and appreciated Iran’s effective role in Afghan peace process.
The top Iranian and Afghan diplomats also stressed the need to expedite the finalization and signing of a comprehensive document on the two countries’ strategic cooperation.
The U.S. reached a deal with the Taliban in February last year on the withdrawal of 12,000 American troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban’s halting of their attacks on American forces.
Under the so-called Doha Accord, the former U.S. administration promised to bring the number of American forces in Afghanistan to zero by May 2021 in exchange for security guarantees.
With the fighting continuing, new U.S. President Joe Biden has pushed that deadline back, but removed the conditions.
On Wednesday, Biden said it was "time to end America’s longest war” and noted he would withdraw the remaining American forces from Afghanistan by September 11.
The U.S. troop withdrawal process will begin on May 1, Biden said.
The Taliban said on Tuesday that they would not participate in any peace talks for Afghanistan until all foreign forces leave the country.
"Until all foreign forces completely withdraw from our homeland, (we) will not participate in any conference that shall make decisions about Afghanistan,” Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said in a post on Twitter.
The U.S. currently has around 3,500 troops in Afghanistan.
Despite the presence of thousands of foreign troops in Afghanistan, violence still ravages the country.
In a report released on Wednesday, the United Nations said the number of civilians killed and injured in Afghanistan during the first three months of 2021 had been "significantly” higher than a year ago.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan recorded in its report close to 1,800 civilian casualties, including 573 deaths, a 29% increase compared with the same period in 2020.