Iran opposes US-Taliban talks: Top security official

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Iran’s top security official said Wednesday the Islamic Republic opposed US negotiations with Afghanistan’s Taliban, as the talks excluded the Afghan people and government.

“Any strategy, any decision or plan without the participation of the Afghan people is wrong and doomed to failure,” said Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.


“The Taliban are a reality of the Afghan people that cannot be ignored. But are all Afghans Taliban? No,” he added.

Shamkhani was speaking at a news conference following a meeting in Tehran of senior national security officials from Afghanistan, China, India, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia.

He accused the US of trying to use the situation in Afghanistan to “create insecurity on the borders of China, Russia and Iran” and said the “dialogue on regional security” was proof of Washington’s failure to isolate the Islamic Republic.

Shamkhani noted that Tehran did not participate in the US-led negotiations due to having once cooperated with Washington on Afghanistan and having been “put in the Axis of Evil.”

The term was first used by US President George W. Bush in 2002, when he branded three countries -- North Korea, Iran and Iraq -- as states that sponsored terrorism.

A US-Taliban deal had been all but signed in early September, but President Donald Trump scuttled the agreement at the last minute, citing ongoing Taliban violence, including a Kabul bombing that killed an American soldier.

Talks resumed December 7 amid a reduction in violence in Kabul, but were paused after another Taliban attack, this time at Bagram air base north of the Afghan capital.

According to a draft of the September agreement, the Taliban were to commit to security measures, launch a dialogue with the Afghan government and reduce violence in exchange for the withdrawal of American forces.

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