UN envoy arrives in Iran for Afghan talks
Tue 20 Oct 98 - 15:05 GMT
TEHRAN, Oct 20 (AFP) - The UN special envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, arrived here Tuesday for meetings with Iranian officials and leaders of the opposition to Afghanistan's Taliban militia, the UN office here announced.
Arriving from a visit to Pakistan, Brahimi is expected to remain here until Wednesday, when he will leave for the Uzbek capital Tashkent to start a Central Asian tour which will also take him to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
He told a news conference in Islamabad Monday that he would try to persuade Iranian officials to hold direct talks with the Taliban, which now controls around 90 percent of Afghanistan.
Taliban leaders have said they are ready to meet Iranian officials in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the permanent seat of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which is currently chaired by Iran.
Iran has yet to give its formal approval to talks, waiting to hear the UN envoy's proposals before responding.
Brahimi has said he hopes his talks in Tehran will help reduce tension between Shiite Moslem Iran and the Sunni Moslem Taliban sparked by the killing of Iranian diplomats during the militia's takeover of the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif in August.
Iran has massed tens of thousands of troops on its border with Afghanistan. The Taliban have deployed 30,000 on the other side of the frontier.
"We are going to talk about the necessity of achieving real peace in Afghanistan," Brahimi told reporters as he left Islamabad for Tehran.
The UN envoy said tension between Iran and the Taliban had eased following the release of Iranian prisoners.
The Taliban freed 25 Iranians last week after Brahimi visited the central Afghan town of Kandahar.
It had earlier released 25 other Iranians in batches through mediation involving neighbouring Pakistan, a principal supporter of the Islamic militia.
Brahimi is due to meet Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Afghan affairs Mohsen Aminzadeh on Tuesday, as well as ousted Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani and the leader of the Hizb-i-Wahdat party of Afghanistan's Shiite Moslem Hazara community, Karim Khalili.
He is due to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi Wednesday and may also meet Afghan warlord General Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek.
|Back to News Archirves of 1998|
Disclaimer: This news site is mostly a compilation of publicly accessible articles on the Web in the form of a link or saved news item. The news articles and commentaries/editorials are protected under international copyright laws. All credit goes to the original respective source(s).