Kabul ready to reopen ties with Teheran
KABUL (AFP) - A senior minister from Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia said Tuesday the regime was ready to reopen diplomatic relations with Iran. "Our relations are very good. Our ties have improved 90 per cent," Taliban Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal told reporters in Kabul. "They can re-open their embassy in Kabul according to diplomatic principles," the minister added.
Iran, like most countries in the world, does not recognise the Taliban as the legitmate rulers of Afghanistan. Jamal said he believed Teheran was convinced of the non-interference policy of the Afghan religious militia, which controls most of country.
He noted the resumption of cross-border trade between the two countries after Iran re-opened a frontier-crossing point last November allowing badly-needed foodstuffs to roll into Afghanistan.
"We never intend to interfere in others' relations. Nor do we expect others to do so. Now Iran has understood that the Islamic Emirate (of Afghanistan) is firm on its word," the minister said. A team from the Iranian foreign ministry is due to visit Afghanistan, Iranian radio said Sunday.
The team will inspect Iranian diplomatic missions in the capital and other Afghan major cities.
The radio quoted a foreign ministry official as saying Iran's consul-general in Herat had been to the Afghan western city for a week to prepare for the visit. Jamal said no date had been fixed for the visit yet.
The Taliban took power in 1996 in Kabul after they ejected the pro-Teheran government of ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Ultimately they shut the Iranian emnbassy in the capital and expelled Iranian diplomats, accusing them of espionage.
Relations between the Taliban and Tehran tumbled in the summer of 1998 when Iranian diplomats were killed in the northern city of Mazar-I-Sharif after it fell to the Taliban troops.
Both countries were at the brink of a full-scale war as Tehran massed hundreds of thousands of troops close to the Afghan border where they started unscheduled military exercises.
Iran still recognizes Rabbani, who along with his ex-defence minister Ahmad Shah Masood has been able to thwart the Taliban's ambitions of getting the whole country under their Muslim ultra-puritanical grip.
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