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Iran foreign minister meets senior Taliban official in Tehran

Iran foreign minister meets senior Taliban official in Tehran
FILE PHOTO: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a news conference, a day ahead of the first meeting of the new Syrian Constitutional Committee at the Untied Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse -
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DENIS BALIBOUSE(Reuters)
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GENEVA (Reuters) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks in Tehran with a Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the group’s founders, the official IRNA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Zarif expressed Iran’s willingness to support dialogue between all Afghan parties with the participation of the Afghan government, according to IRNA.

The Taliban have refused to talk to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government, denouncing it as a U.S. puppet.

Last week, the Taliban released American and Australian university professors held hostage for more than three years, completing a delayed prisoner swap and raising hopes for a revival of peace talks.

Iran also held talks with a delegation from Afghanistan’s Taliban in September, a week after peace talks between the United States and the Islamist insurgents collapsed.

Iran said in December it had been meeting with Taliban representatives with the knowledge of the Afghan government, after reports of U.S.-Taliban talks about a ceasefire and a possible withdrawal of foreign troops.

(Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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