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Taliban Hold Talks With Iranian Officials In Tehran

FILE: Taliban chief negotiators Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai (R) and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar during talks with senior Afghan politicians in Moscow in May.

Days after the collapse of peace talks between the Taliban and the United States, a Taliban delegation has held talks with senior Iranian officials in Tehran.

According to the Taliban and Iranian state media, a four-member delegation of the hard-line Sunni Taliban movement met with Iranian diplomats and other senior officials on September 16.

Tasnim, a news agency close to Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said the country’s foreign ministry spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi had confirmed the visit.

“Recently, within the framework of the comprehensive consultations of the Islamic Republic of Iran with all parties in Afghanistan, a political delegation from the Taliban traveled to our country to exchange views with the relevant Iranian officials about the latest developments in Afghanistan,” Mousavi told journalists on April 17.

Suhai Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, said that a four-member Taliban delegation led by Abdul Salam Hanafi talked with senior foreign ministry officials in Tehran on September 16.

“The talks concentrated on the latest developments in the peace process, the development and protection of Iranian economic projects in the country and the various ways of reaching lasting peace in the country,” Shaheen wrote on Twitter.

The talks in Tehran follow a similar Taliban visit to Moscow for talks with Russian officials last week. In Moscow, Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, a top Taliban negotiator, told the Kremlin-funded RT network that their movement wanted to continue talks with the United States but if no agreement is reached the Taliban are ready to fight "for 100 years.

Earlier on September 9, U.S. President Donald Trump declared that his country’s peace talks with the Taliban were "dead."

The pronouncement followed Trump’s dramatic tweets on September 8, which said he had canceled a secret meeting with Taliban leaders at the Camp David presidential retreat in the U.S. state of Maryland after the group accepted responsibility for a September 5 attack in Kabul that killed a U.S. soldier and 11 Afghans.

Meanwhile, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy for Afghan peace, is scheduled to testify at a congressional hearing in Washington on September 19.

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