Tehran Denies Dealings With Taliban

Tehran Denies Dealings With Taliban

Iranian officials denied a claim by the Taliban militant group that it has "relations" with Tehran, describing it as an attempt to promote Iranophobia across the world.
The claim was raised by the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper on Sunday, which reported Mullah Zabihullah, an Afghan spokesman for the Taliban, as "revealing" the presence of "relations and new networks with Iran".
The report quoted Zabihullah as saying, "The movement is trying to benefit from all legitimate means to reach a regional agreement as part of the war against the American invasion. Therefore, [it] holds ongoing networks with a large number of regional and neighboring states."
An Iranian lawmaker rejected the claim on Monday, saying the Islamic Republic views the Taliban as a "deviant" group and would never engage with it.
"The Taliban's claim about Iranian cooperation with the outfit is merely meant to damage [the image] of Tehran," Mohammad Javad Jamali told ICANA.
Jamali, who is a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said making an allegation that Tehran cooperates with the Taliban would also help Saudi Arabia, which is under pressure for its role behind the spread of terrorism across the world.
"Since Saudi Arabia is accused of financing and supporting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the international arena, Saudis want to make allegations against Iran to reduce pressure on themselves," he said.
Taliban, which is influenced by Wahhabi ideology mainly promoted by Saudi clerics, ruled Afghanistan prior to a US-led invasion of the country in 2001. The Taliban regime was not recognized by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, was one of the only three countries that did recognize the Taliban government.

  Fueling Iranophobia
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi described the claim on Monday as an attempt by "the terrorist-nurturing sponsors of the terrorist group" to fuel Iranophobic perceptions.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has always played a leading role among regional states in fighting terrorist groups and has so far suffered heavy material and non-material costs in this fight," IRNA quoted Qasemi as saying.
Qasemi said the claim is a "desperate effort to distract the global public opinion from the crimes of the House of Saud in massacring the innocent people of Yemen."
Saudi Arabia started its military campaign in Yemen in March 2015. Saudis have been accused of systematically bombing Yemen's civilian infrastructure, in a war that the UN said in August had killed 10,000 people.


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