S Jaishankar, Iran foreign minister talk ties in context of Afghan conflict

By Livemint

Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar spoke to his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Wednesday against the backdrop of intense fighting raging between the Taliban and Afghan security forces in Afghanistan.

“Good to talk to Iranian FM @JZarif. A productive conversation on our ties,” said a Twitter post from Jaishankar. There were no further details.

India and Iran, besides Russia, were the main backers of an anti-Taliban alliance when the Pakistan-based hardline group was in control of Kabul and large swathes of Afghanistan between 1996-2001. The three countries had helped fund the anti-Taliban alliance in Afghanistan that was once headed by Tajik commander Ahmad Shah Masood.

Masood was assassinated on 9 September 2001, two days before the 9/11 attacks in the US that caused the US-led forces to begin their war against terrorism in October 2001. The Taliban were driven out of Kabul in November 2001, but it regrouped several years later and is now posing a major challenge to the Ashraf Ghani government.

With the Taliban making rapid military advances, Jaishankar has in recent weeks been to Iran and Russia for talks with his counterparts with analysts expressing doubts over whether the three countries could regroup to resist the Taliban.

Iran’s main worry is a flood of refugees streaming into the country from Afghanistan in case the Taliban takes control.

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