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Afghan Official Snubs Zarif For Taliban Comment

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the second day of the three-day Raisina Dialogue conference in New Delhi, January 9, 2019.

An Afghan government official has assailed Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s statement that the Taliban should have a role in the country’s future, saying it is better if Iranian officials listen to their own opponents in Iran.

Shah Hossein Mortazavi, deputy spokesperson of the Afghan president on January 10 wrote on Facebook accused Iran’s foreign ministry officials that “These days they act in the role of Taliban spokesmen”.

While visiting India on Wednesday Zarif had said that the Taliban must have a role in Afghanistan but not dominate the country.

A Taliban delegation visited Iran in late December and later announced that “post-occupation” issues were discussed.

On January 5, Iran’s deputy foreign minister visited Kabul to brief Afghan officials on Iran’s talks with the Taliban.

Earlier in December, reports began circulating that U.S. President Donald Trump was planning to reduce U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Iran says it wants to help the peace process in Afghanistan, but many see this as an attempt by Tehran to expand its influence in Afghanistan.

Mortazavi added in his Facebook post that why Iran “does not solve its own internal political problem, which has led to crisis for many years. Wouldn’t it be better [for Iran] to listen to the voice of its own political opponents… instead of the Taliban?”

Mortazavi’s post was deleted hours later, but Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister has also criticized Zarif’s statement and called it interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.