UN Envoy Discusses Afghanistan With Iranian Officials

UN Envoy Discusses Afghanistan With Iranian Officials UN Envoy Discusses Afghanistan With Iranian Officials

United Nations secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, who is in Tehran at the head of a delegation, discussed Afghan issues with several Iranian officials on Sunday. 
In her meeting with Iranian foreign minister’s representative for Afghanistan, Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian, the two sides reviewed the political and security status quo in Afghanistan and exchanged views on different aspects of intra-Afghan peace negotiations, according to Iran’s Foreign Ministry.  
Taherian stressed the need for the UN’s more active role to help promote intra-Afghan talks as well as international peace efforts, expressing Iran’s readiness to cooperate with the UN in this regard. 
Lyons appreciated Iran's support for Afghan people and efforts to help address the country’s problems. 
She said the UN is ready to play an effective role to advance the peace process and to cooperate with regional states for promoting Afghanistan’s social and economic development. 
Both sides expressed deep concern over the escalation of violence in Afghanistan over the last three months and called for efforts to prevent civilian casualties.
The UN envoy also held talks with Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, where they shared views on the intra-Afghan dialogue brokered by the United States in Doha, Qatar.
Araqchi censured the US unilateral approach toward Afghanistan’s peace, highlighting the UN’s role as an impartial facilitator of peace talks, IRNA reported.
He said the UN Assistance Mission has a significant role in facilitating intra-Afghan dialogue and hosting international consultations, expressing Iran’s willingness to cooperate. 
A civil war has been continuing in Afghanistan between the Kabul government and the Taliban insurgents since the US overthrew the group from power in 2001. 
Washington finally signed a peace agreement with the Taliban in February in Doha, based on which the US agreed to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and Taliban pledged to enter talks with the Afghan government. 
The negotiations, however, reached an impasse due to disagreements over a framework for talks while violence continues in Afghanistan not only between the Taliban and government forces, but most recently by the Islamic State terrorist group.  
The Iranian diplomat also stressed the need for protecting the achievements of Afghan people over the past two decades during peace talks, especially democratic structures and rights of ethnic and religious minorities and women.
Lyons underlined the importance of implementing economic plans for the development of Afghanistan's infrastructure and improving people’s livelihood. 
She called for using the current capacities to develop cooperation with Iran in this regard.
Araqchi pointed to Iran’s transit cooperation with Afghanistan through the Khaf-Herat railroad and ongoing negotiations for strategic partnership in infrastructural, energy, electricity and water sectors, calling for UN assistance. 
Lyons met a number of other Iranian officials during her visit as well, including with Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, and Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian.

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