Taliban delegation to Iran to discuss peace negotiations

The trip comes against a backdrop of increased insurgent violence
Estados Unidos planea completar su retirada de Afganistán a finales de agosto

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A Taliban delegation travelled to Iran on Wednesday at Iran's invitation to discuss "bilateral issues" and meet with Afghan politicians on how to resolve the Afghan conflict "through dialogue".

The trip comes amid escalating hostilities by the insurgent formation in Afghanistan, which has captured more than 100 of the country's 402 districts, while the United States has already withdrawn more than 90% of its troops.

"A high-level delegation of the Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban call themselves) led by Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai has travelled to Iran with an official invitation," Naeem Wardak, spokesman for the insurgents' political office in Qatar, told Efe.
Estados Unidos planea completar su retirada de Afganistán a finales de agosto

The delegation will hold discussions "bilaterally and on issues of mutual interest" with Iranian officials, Wardak said.

The insurgents also plan to meet with a political delegation from the Afghan government, including former vice president Mohamed Yunus Qanuni and the Afghan president's adviser on peace affairs, Salam Rahimi.

The two delegations will hold a meeting on "the current situation in the country and how to solve the problems through negotiation", Wardak added.

In the past two months, the Taliban have advanced rapidly in the territory, capturing more than 100 of the country's 407 districts, and have stalked the capitals of a dozen provinces, causing great concern.

REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST  -   El presidente de Afganistán, Ashraf Ghani (izquierda), y el jefe del Ejecutivo afgano, Abdullah Abdullah (derecha)
REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST  -   Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani (left) and Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah (right)

This is the first time in two decades of war that the Taliban have taken control of so many districts in such a short time.

The Taliban advance coincides with the final phase of the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, which began on 1 May and is scheduled to be completed by the end of August, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

The United States, which last Friday abandoned the Bagram military base, the great symbol of its military presence in Afghanistan, revealed yesterday that it has already completed more than 90 per cent of its troop withdrawal.

The departure of the international troops has caused concern in the Afghan government in view of the advances made by the Taliban insurgents in recent weeks.