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Iran’s FM Zarif calls formation of ‘all-inclusive’ Afghan government

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Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday called for the formation of an “all-inclusive” Afghan government during a meeting with a Taliban delegation in Tehran, the ministry said.

A delegation from the movement headed by its co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Iran on Tuesday to exchange “views on the peace process in Afghanistan” at the invitation of the ministry.

The visit comes as peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban resumed in early January in the Qatari capital Doha, meant to end a conflict spanning two decades.

“Political decisions cannot be made in a vacuum,” Zarif told the delegation, according to a ministry statement.

Read more: Iran’s remarks stirs controversy in Afghanistan

“The formation of an all-inclusive government must take place in a participatory process and by taking into account the fundamental structures, institutions and laws, such as the constitution,” he added.

He also welcomed the idea of forming an “all-inclusive government with the participation of all ethnic and political groups”.

Zarif expressed hope the Taliban would “focus efforts on an immediate end to the pains of Afghan people, so that the establishment of peace in Afghanistan would strip the outsiders of a pretext for occupation”.

Iran has previously called for the forces of its arch rival the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan, its eastern neighbour.

Lack of progress

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday urged the new US President Joe Biden to put pressure on the Taliban and not rush to withdraw more troops from Afghanistan.

His appeal came days after the Biden administration said it intends to reconsider a February 2020 agreement between former president Donald Trump and the Taliban.

The agreement includes the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for the Taliban halting attacks on US forces, sharply decreasing the level of violence in the country and advancing peace talks with the government in Kabul.

Read more: As foreign troops exit Afghanistan, Hazaras fear for their lives

The Afghan government blames the Taliban for the lack of progress in negotiations that started in September last year and resumed this month.

“Since January 6, our delegation is in Doha ready to start the talks based on the agendas. But the other side is busy travelling abroad,” government negotiator Muhammad Rasul Talib told reporters in Doha.

“The negotiation is not in a stalemate yet, but there is a pause and the reason for that is the Taliban,” he added.

“The Afghan delegation is calling on them to come back, we believe the current opportunity to solve the problems should not be wasted.”

Read more: Peace in Afghanistan in interest of Pakistan, Iran: PM Imran Khan

Kabul is pushing for a permanent ceasefire and to protect governance arrangements in place since the ouster of the Taliban by a US-led invasion following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York.

But violence has escalated across Afghanistan, with the Taliban refusing to make concessions.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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