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Iran hosts new peace talks between Afghanistan gov't, Taliban

By
Zarrin Ahmed
Previous peace talks in Qatar between the Afghan government and the militant Taliban group were unsuccessful and disrupted by political disagreements and surges in fighting in Afghanistan. File Photo by Muhammad Sadiq/EPA-EFE
Previous peace talks in Qatar between the Afghan government and the militant Taliban group were unsuccessful and disrupted by political disagreements and surges in fighting in Afghanistan. File Photo by Muhammad Sadiq/EPA-EFE

July 7 (UPI) -- Iranian officials on Wednesday invited a Taliban delegation and Afghan politicians to Tehran to discuss peace talks now that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is nearly complete.

The surprise peace talks are the first significant discussions in months between Afghan and Taliban officials.

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The Taliban delegation is led by chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai and Afghanistan's includes former Vice President Younus Qanooni and members of Kabul's High Council for National Reconciliation.

The talks come one day after the U.S. military said the withdrawal from Afghanistan is about 90% complete.

"Today, the people and political leaders of Afghanistan must make difficult decisions for the future of their country," Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at the start of bilateral talks Wednesday, according to Radio Free Europe.

Previous peace talks in Qatar between the Afghan government and the militant Taliban group were unsuccessful and disrupted by political disagreements and surges in fighting in Afghanistan.

The U.S. military has said it expects the withdrawal to be complete in the next few weeks.

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