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Taliban FM makes first trip to Iran since group seized control of Afghanistan

Kabul says meetings in Tehran discuss ‘political, economic, transit and refugee issues’

The foreign minister in Afghanistan's new Taliban-run cabinet, Amir Khan Muttaqi, gives a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 14, 2021. (Muhammad Farooq/AP)
The foreign minister in Afghanistan's new Taliban-run cabinet, Amir Khan Muttaqi, gives a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 14, 2021. (Muhammad Farooq/AP)

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban’s foreign minister visited Iran on Saturday to discuss Afghan refugees and a growing economic crisis, in the first such trip to the neighboring country since the hardline Islamists seized power.

Iran, like other nations, has so far not recognized the new government formed by the Taliban after it took power amid a hasty withdrawal by United States-led foreign forces in August.

“The visit aims at discussions on political, economic, transit and refugee issues between Afghanistan and Iran,” Taliban foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi tweeted.

Already host to millions of Afghans and fearing a new influx, Tehran has sought to forge a rapprochement with the Taliban.

The Taliban delegation, led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, has already held a preliminary meeting with Iranian officials, Balkhi said.

Shi’ite Iran, which shares a 900-kilometer (550-mile) border with Afghanistan, did not recognize the Sunni movement’s rule during their 1996 to 2001 stint in power. And Iran is still stopping short of recognizing the Taliban’s current government, insisting that the Islamists form an inclusive administration.

“Today, we are basically not at the point of recognizing” the Taliban, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a news conference earlier this week.

The Taliban has formed an all-male cabinet made up entirely of members of the group, and almost exclusively of ethnic Pashtuns.

It has further restricted women’s rights to work and study, triggering widespread international condemnation.

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