Iran says Afghan Taliban arrived in Tehran, held peace talks

A Taliban delegation has arrived in the Irianian capital as part of a series negotiations. (File/AFP)
Updated 31 December 2018
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Iran says Afghan Taliban arrived in Tehran, held peace talks

  • The talks are designed to set parameters for negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government
  • “A Taliban delegation was in Tehran yesterday. They had comprehensive negotiations with the Iranian deputy foreign minister,” Bahram Qasemi said

LONDON: Iran said Taliban representatives from Afghanistan negotiated with Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday, as the Islamic Republic seeks to advance peace talks in the neighboring country to curb the influence of other Islamist groups.
The talks were held with the knowledge of Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and were intended to set parameters for negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said on Monday.
“A Taliban delegation was in Tehran yesterday. They had comprehensive negotiations with the Iranian deputy foreign minister,” Bahram Qasemi said in a news conference broadcast live on state television.
The Taliban, seeking to re-impose strict Islamic law in Afghanistan after their 2001 overthrow, say the presence of international forces there is the main obstacle to peace. Even as the peace process gathers momentum, fighting has continued with heavy casualties on both sides.
Groups Bands of Islamic State fighters have been increasingly active in Afghanistan in recent years, clashing with both government and Taliban forces and alarming neighboring nations.
Taliban sources said this month that they had also negotiated with the US officials over proposals for a six-month cease-fire in Afghanistan and a future withdrawal of foreign troops.
Also in December, Afghan forces abandoned a remote western district bordering Iran, leaving the area to the Taliban after the government failed to resupply troops stationed there.


American held in Russia for espionage to appear in court

Updated 44 sec ago
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American held in Russia for espionage to appear in court

  • Paul Whelan, a former US Marine, was arrested in Moscow at the end of December
  • Spying charges carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years in Russia

MOSCOW: An American man who is being held in Moscow on suspicion of spying is due in court.
Paul Whelan, a former US Marine, was arrested in Moscow at the end of December. The arrest raised speculation that he could be swapped for one of the Russians held in the US, such as gun rights activist Maria Butina, who has pleaded guilty to acting as a foreign agent in the US
Whelan is to appear in court on Tuesday where the judge is expected to extend his arrest.
Spying charges carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years in Russia.