The Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi visited Tehran on Sunday. The visit came as a litany of problems is on the one hand rocking the Afghan society and the country is in need of international support to move to stability and settlement of the economic crisis and on the other hand the international community especially Afghanistan's neighbors are following ...
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi visited Tehran on Sunday. The visit came as a litany of problems is on the one hand rocking the Afghan society and the country is in need of international support to move to stability and settlement of the economic crisis and on the other hand the international community especially Afghanistan's neighbors are following its developments with extreme sensitivity and are concerned about the consequences of the largely irresponsible withdrawal of the US and its Western allies. These concerns have motivated several conferences on Afghanistan over the past few months.
In the middle of this situation, the Tehran trip comes with dual goals.
Significance of Iranian role for the Taliban
The self-proclaimed Taliban government has so far failed to attract international trust and advance its demand for recognition despite promises of respect for human rights for ethnic and religious minorities, consideration of regional and international concerns about spread of terrorism in Afghanistan, assurances that the country would not be a source of threat for others. This is motivating the new Afghanistan leaders to ratchet up their diplomatic moves towards recognition.
In the meantime, Iran can play an important role both in facilitating the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign troops and as a regional and national power with extensive international relations and capable of strengthening the process of international acceptance of the new government.
Last week, Bahador Aminian, Iran's ambassador to Kabul, told Afghanistan's TOLO news in an exclusive interview: "If Iran recognizes new Afghanistan government, Russia, China, Central Asian countries and some Arab countries will also follow suit." Aminian stressed that if Kabul changes the structure of government, Tehran can encourage others to recognize it.
However, before taking any action to recognize the Taliban's government, Iran is, with great sensitivity, following the course of peace in Afghanistan through inter-Afghan dialogue and the formation of an inclusive national government, in line with the international community.
Apparent enough, at present Tehran has not reached such a conclusion that the conditions necessary for the recognition of the Taliban have been met, as Aminian stressed in the interview: "The new Afghanistan government is not inclusive and Tehran cannot recognize this government in this way. Out of benevolence, we call on the Taliban rulers to form an inclusive government."
It is no secret that in the past there were no good relations between Iran and the Taliban government. But Taliban's offer of assurances for departure from monopoly in rule, the need for humanitarian aids for Afghanistan, common work towards security, refugees affairs, and prevention of rise of terrorist groups have been issues that facilitated unofficial diplomatic interactions between Tehran and Taliban-led Kabul.
Also, the significance of relations with Iran for the new Afghanistan leadership has to do with economic cooperation. Resolving Afghanistan's major economic problems has been cited as one of the Taliban's top priorities, despite challenges such as Western sanctions, capital fleeing, domestic unrest, and the uncertainty of international investors about stability in the country. Meanwhile, Tehran, as a bridge between Afghanistan and the western world and the access route of this landlocked country to international waters, can be an important partner for Kabul in various economic fields, as Iran has always been the closest economic partner of Afghanistan and has had a strong presence in its market.
Even now, despite significant political changes in Kabul, Iran can use the new conditions to expand cooperation with Afghanistan, as Mahmoud Siadatnia, head of the Mashhad Chamber of Commerce, told ISNA in July last year that during the American presence in the Central Asian nation, the Iranian companies had been prevented from technical and engineering projects but the "obstacles are cleared now."
In late December, the first meeting of the two countries' chambers of commerce after Taliban takeover was held online, with two sides agreeing on various issues including:
1. Establishment of the joint chamber of commerce and introduction of the proposed members of this chamber by Afghanistan.
2. Establishment of joint investment, technical, and engineering services committee.
3. Pursuing preferential tariffs agreements between the two countries
4. Facilitating visa-free travels for businesspeople of the two countries
5. Increasing cross-border cooperation by signing agreements between Iran's border chambers in Birjand, Zahedan and Mashhad provinces and their Afghanistan counterparts in Herat, Nimruz and Farah provinces.
6. Establishment of mining cooperation committee
7. Establishment of joint committee for energy cooperation.
The Taliban delegation put high on its agenda economic matters, with interim ministers of economy, finance, and their aides being part of the delegation.
The two sides discussed and reached agreements on trade and cooperation in banking, border markets, and mining sectors, as well as sports.