Tehran, Iran – Iran is still some time away from officially recognising the Taliban as the government of neighbouring Afghanistan, its foreign ministry says, after a meeting with the group in Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Sunday’s high-level talks with Taliban representatives were “positive”, but Iran is still “not at the point of officially recognising Taliban”.
“The current condition of Afghanistan is a major concern for the Islamic Republic of Iran and the visit of the Afghan delegation was within the framework of these concerns,” he added in a press conference on Monday.
The Taliban delegation, led by the group’s Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, met their Iranian counterparts led by Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.
It was the first such visit by a Taliban delegation since the group caused the collapse of the country’s Western-backed government amid the chaotic withdrawal of the United States-led forces in August.
Since the fall of Kabul, Iran’s official position has been that it will only recognise the Taliban if they manage to form an “inclusive” government. Iran and the Taliban have been in contact since, with special Iranian envoy Hassan Kazemi-Qomi making several trips to Afghanistan in recent months.
Border clash ‘misunderstanding’
Prior to Sunday’s meeting, both sides said they wish to discuss political, economic, transit, and refugee issues.
According to an Iranian foreign ministry statement, Amirabdollahian criticised “wrong policies” by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan during the meeting, and said the US must lift its sanctions based on humanitarian grounds and to help the Afghan people and economy.
He also promised that Iran will continue to send humanitarian aid to its neighbour, and said: “the efforts of the zealous people of Afghanistan showed that no foreign power can occupy Afghanistan and rule over its people”.
Amirabdollahian also reminded Muttaqi of the 1998 killing of Iranian diplomats in Mazar-i-Sharif during a consulate siege in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and said the Taliban now has a responsibility to protect diplomatic offices.
Iran and Taliban border forces also had a brief clash last month in Hirmand, which both later described as a “misunderstanding”.
Muttaqi was quoted as saying during Sunday’s meeting the new Afghan government emphasises the point that “it is not against any of its neighbouring countries”.
The two sides also reportedly agreed that further meetings will be scheduled between technical delegations to discuss the issue of Iran’s water rights from the Helmand River.