US has elevated role of militants, future of Afghanistan cannot be negotiated with Taliban, says Iran

Iran has said that the United States has ‘elevated’ the role of militants and criticized the talks with Taliban as it has alienated the present government of Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif acknowledged that Iran had also opened dialogue with the Taliban but said that the US push for a deal with the extremists was “seriously wrong”.

“An attempt to exclude everybody and just talk to the Taliban has alienated the government, has alienated the region, has alienated everybody else and it achieved nothing, as you’ve seen from the statement that came from the Taliban,” Zarif said, apparently referring to the militants’ announcement of a new spring offensive.

“I was the first to say that in any peace in Afghanistan, the Taliban cannot be set aside or isolated,” Zarif said at the Asia Society in New York, which he was visiting to take part in a UN session.

“But you cannot negotiate the future of Afghanistan with the Taliban. The Taliban only represent a segment of Afghan society, not all of it,” he said.

President Donald Trump has voiced impatience at ending the longest-ever US war, launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is set shortly to hold a fresh round of talks in Qatar with the Taliban, with early indications saying Washington will agree to pull troops and that the militants will promise not to allow foreign extremists on their soil.

But the Taliban have refused to negotiate with President Ashraf Ghani’s internationally recognized government, with a would-be breakthrough meeting recently collapsing in a dispute over the delegation list.

The much-anticipated talks between Afghan politicians, civil society members and other representatives of Afghanistan’s society with the Taliban scheduled for April 20-21 were “canceled” due to a “disagreement” by Qatari government on the 250-member list proposed by the Afghan side, the TOLOnews  had reported.

The Presidential Palace in a statement had said that the Doha meeting was “canceled” as the Qatar government did not accept the Afghan delegation’s list and instead suggested a new list “which was not acceptable to the Afghan government”.

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