South Asia

Afghan Opposition Confirms Meet With Taliban in Iran, but Claim No Breakthrough Yet

The National Resistance Front's statement claimed that the Taliban did not make any concessions on either an inclusive government or citizenship values.

Listen to this article:

New Delhi: The Afghan opposition group on Tuesday confirmed that discussions were held between the Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and top leaders of the National Resistance Front (NRF) in Iran, but asserted that there was no breakthrough.

On Monday, the Taliban had posted a video of Muttaqi telling reporters about a meeting with the opposition leaders. “We met commander Ismail Khan and Ahmad Massoud, and other Afghans in Iran, and assured them that anyone can come to Afghanistan and live without any concerns. It’s home to all, and we do not create insecurity or other problems for anyone. Everyone can come freely and live,” the acting foreign minister said.

The NRF took an entire day to confirm the meeting with a statement on Tuesday afternoon. It was the first meeting between the two sides since the Afghan republic collapsed and the Taliban walked into Kabul on August 15 last year.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the NRF asserted that the meeting was in response to “repeated demands” from the Taliban and the Iranian government. The statement added that the NRF delegation was led by Ismail Khan, former minister and governor of Herat province. Khan had been taken into custody when the Taliban conquered Herat, but the former warlord escaped and settled in Mashhad in Iran.

Notably, there was no mention of NRF leader Ahmad Massoud in the statement, even though the Taliban had claimed his presence

The statement stated that the NRF had raised the issue of inclusive government as the right of Afghan people, including the role of women.

Further, it appreciated Iran for stating the only way for international recognition of the Taliban government would be to form an inclusive government.

However, the NRF statement claimed that the Taliban did not make any concessions on either an inclusive government or citizenship values. The meeting ended without any agreement, it asserted.

There was no mention if there would be any additional meetings.

While the Taliban does not face any military threat from the opposition, it has been under pressure from several countries in the region to bring more acceptable faces to its government, which UN-sanctioned hardliners currently dominate. If Massoud or a couple of other top opposition leaders return to Afghanistan and join the regime, it would effectively make the NRF defunct.

Until now, there has been no substantive move towards recognition of the Taliban regime by the international community, which has significantly hampered the restoration of banking channels. None of the major diplomatic missions abroad, except for Islamabad, are under the direct control of the Taliban.

As informed observers, it would not be easy for the Taliban and the Afghan opposition to find a meeting ground, as there were influential voices within both sides who advocated no compromise.