The Iranian sources said Tehran was ready to use its influence over Taliban on behalf of the Afghan government.
In case India wants to use Iran’s channels of communication with the Taliban, then Tehran will be open to such a proposition, Iranian diplomatic sources have said, at a time when there was renewed focus on peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. They said though Iran’s influence over the Taliban was not comparable to that of Pakistan’s, but still it would try to use the clout over the terror outfit for bringing peace and stability in the war-torn country. Major powers like the US and Russia have been reaching out to the Taliban as part of efforts to push the stalled Afghan peace process. The issue of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan is likely to figure during talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Wednesday.
In a significant move, India had sent two former diplomats in “non official” capacity to a conference on Afghan peace process in Moscow in November which was attended by a high-level Taliban delegation. The conference organised by Russia was attended by representatives of Afghanistan as well as from several other countries including the US, Pakistan and China. The Iranian sources said Tehran was ready to use its influence over Taliban on behalf of the Afghan government.
If India wants Tehran’s channels of communication with the militant outfit, we are always open to do that, they said. India has been maintaining a policy of not engaging with Taliban and pressing for an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace initiative to bring peace and stability in the war-ravaged country. The Iranian sources said a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan will be security challenge to Iran, India, but it will be an existential threat to Pakistan. Iran is learnt to have conveyed its view to Islamabad about how Taliban can be real threat to its existence. The sources said Tehran believes that there is a need for a situation where Taliban is not exploited by US to create instability in the region, it is not exploited by UAE and Saudi Arabia to “create havoc”.
Iran had contacts with Taliban as as they control some areas adjacent Iran’s border, the sources said adding Iran had the first round dialogue with Taliban. “We had a short dialogue with them in Moscow and then we had the first round of that talk in Tehran,” said a source. On the Chabahar port, the sources said anybody who is interested to join in the project including China, can come on board. On the long-pending proposal of Iran-Pak-India gas pipeline project, the sources said Tehran was of the opinion that it continues to be economically feasible