Taliban delegation arrives in Iran for Afghan peace talks

A senior Taliban delegation has arrived in Iran for talks on the Afghan peace process, led by deputy leader Mullah Ghani Baradar.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Saeed Khatibzadeh, announced today: "This delegation arrived in Tehran this morning based on arrangements already made and upon the invitation of the Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and was welcomed by foreign ministry officials."

"During their stay in Tehran, the Taliban's political delegation will have meetings with Iranian officials, including the respected foreign minister and Iran's special envoy for Afghanistan, and discuss the peace trend in Afghanistan as well as relevant issues and topic," he said.

In addition to the current political situation in Afghanistan and US troop withdrawal, the Taliban delegation will also discuss with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Special Envoy to Kabul, Ebrahim Taherian, bilateral relations and the plight of Afghan refugees.

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This will be Mullah Baradar's second official visit to Tehran in recent years, having previously met with Zarif in November 2019. His visit comes amid the second round of intra-Afghan peace talks in the Qatari capital Doha, although negotiations have so far yielded little results between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

In a cabinet meeting yesterday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that "a new chapter" had opened with the new US administration of President Joe Biden who said he will review the peace deal his predecessor Donald Trump made with the Taliban.

According to Ghani, the Taliban should cut its ties with Pakistan as a prerequisite for peace, although earlier this month the Taliban argued that Ghani's insistence on staying in power could hinder negotiation efforts.

"Ashraf Ghani's rule has brought nothing but poverty, misery, bloodshed, notoriety and problems to Afghanistan," the group said. However the UN estimated that the Taliban were responsible for 45 per cent of civilian deaths and injuries in the first three quarters of last year.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Iranian MP Ahmad Naderi said he believes that a "new generation" of the Taliban is emerging. "Certainly, the Taliban, like many other movements, has changed, and the new generation of the movement is different from the previous generation," he said.

"Unlike its new generation, the old generation of the Taliban had a strong connection with Saudi Arabia that no longer continues," he added, arguing that ties with Pakistan have also been weakened.

READ: US lowers troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 2,500

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