Afghanistan’s neighbors gather in Tehran; differ on recognition of Taliban
Differences are beginning to form between some regional allies on how to move towards recognizing the Taliban as Afghanistan's official rulers
By News Desk - October 27 2021

(Photo credit: BBC via IRNA)

On Wednesday, October 26, Iran hosted the second conference in three months on Afghanistan, with several foreign ministers from neighboring countries present.

The top diplomats from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Pakistan arrived in Tehran on Tuesday where they met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian to discuss regional and bilateral relations, as well as the complicated situation in Afghanistan.

Prior to the summit, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that President Ebrahim Raisi was planning to inaugurate the conference, however, after a cyber-attack disrupted the country’s fuel distribution system Raisi decided to send Mohammad Mokhber, his First Vice President, in his stead.

During the gathering, Abdollahian emphasized that the Islamic Republic hopes to see the security of all ethnicities in Afghanistan safeguarded, as well as the formation of an inclusive government.

Since the Taliban’s August victory in the 20-year war against the US, Iran has been reiterating that an inclusive government, made up of all ethnicities and minorities, is a priority before granting Afghanistan’s interim rulers official recognition.

However, what caught the eyes of political experts during the conference was the differences in opinion by some of those present.

While Iran stands by its position that the Taliban must provide a safe and secure environment for the Shia community in Afghanistan, Pakistan insists that neighboring countries and regional actors must move faster towards officially recognizing the Taliban.

China meanwhile took its usual conservative approach and sided with Iran.

Russia, however, indicated that while it recognizes Iran’s concerns, “conference [after] conference will not solve anything,” according to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov went on to say that the current process to secure Afghanistan’s interests must be followed through in the United Nations.

Many agree that this difference in opinion from neighborly nations stems from the Kremlin’s dissatisfaction with Tehran’s hesitance to resume Vienna talks and the eventual restart of the 2015 nuclear deal.

That was evident in a 23 October tweet by Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, in which he criticized Abdollahian for saying Iran would “soon” return to the Vienna talks, asking “Does anybody know what it can mean in practical terms?”

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