TEHRAN -- Iran will decide on its future relations with the Taliban based on the group’s actions, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said here on Monday.
“It is still early to talk about this issue,” he said at a press conference, when asked to comment on the Taliban’s invitation for Iran to attend the new government’s inauguration, and on the possibility of recognizing the Taliban.
“We should wait and see the formation of the future government of Afghanistan and then decide on other issues. We will decide on their request and invitation based on the Taliban’s actions,” Khatibzadeh responded.
He stressed that the interim government announced by the Taliban last week is not what Iran and the international community expected, renewing Tehran's demand for an “inclusive government.”
The announcement sparked worldwide criticism over the lack of diversity, while the Taliban had pledged to include all groups in the new government.
The Taliban’s main rival in the war-ravaged country, the National Resistance Front (NRF), has rejected the interim government as “illegitimate” and called for nationwide protests.
Last week, Khatibzadeh strongly condemned Taliban attacks on the Panjshir Valley, where anti-Taliban groups, including the NRF, are based, urging the militant group to live up to its commitments.
Iran’s permanent representative to the UN Majid Takht-Ravanchi condemned censured the attacks as an “unjustifiable and condemnable fratricide” that runs counter to the united position of the international community.
In his Monday presser, Khatibzadeh said Iran has repeatedly emphasized that any action resulting in “fratricide” is not the right path.
“War and violence are not a solution, and no one can replace dialogue with war and violence,” he stated. “We have firmly said that an inclusive government can bring peace and stability. No minority government can bring maximum peace, stability and calm in the long run.”
In similar remarks on Saturday, the head of the Iran-Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Group said the political future of any government in Afghanistan hinges on incorporating all Afghan groups.
“One of the main problems of Afghanistan is that every government formed there has not been inclusive,” Ali Jeddi told ICANA.
The senior lawmaker also maintained that the Taliban’s interim government is not inclusive, predicting that the militant group will face problems if it resists demands for the formation of an all-inclusive government.
Elsewhere during his news conference, Khatibzadeh said Iran earnestly strives to boost its relations with the Afghan people and intends to help the oppressed yet proud and zealous people of Afghanistan fulfill their will and desire.
The spokesman pointed to the recent formation of a section for Afghan affairs within the Iranian Foreign Ministry, saying Tehran has been making every effort so that the Afghan people are not deprived of necessary access to Iran’s consular services.
Pressed on whether Tehran would recognize the Taliban, he stressed that the Islamic Republic is among a few actors retaining close relations with almost all sides in Afghanistan.
Referring to the recent intra-Afghan talks in Tehran, Khatibzadeh said Iran attempted to include all Afghan groups in addition to the Afghan government and the Taliban in the talks.
Since the Taliban took control of Kabul in mid-August, Iran has been calling for the formation of an all-inclusive government by Afghan groups. Tehran has also warned against foreign interference in Afghanistan’s affairs, saying Washington’s humiliating defeat in the country proved once again that the Afghan people strongly reject any form of foreign interference.
The collapse of the Afghan government on August 15 has been widely attributed to the hasty withdrawal of American forces from the country, whose presence since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 had worsened the situation there.
In recent weeks, human rights activists have called on the international community to hold the U.S. accountable for the war crimes it committed during its 20-year occupation of Afghanistan.