TEHRAN — Abdul Qayyum Soleimani, caretaker of the Afghan embassy in Tehran, told a news conference late on Tuesday that Ahmad Massoud, the leader of Afghanistan’s National Resistance Front (NRF), told acting Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Tehran that he is not seeking a war in Afghanistan.
Muttaqi and his accompanying team visited Tehran late on Saturday (January 8).
“I am narrating the negotiations between the Taliban and Ahmad Massoud, and Ismail Khan (former governor of Herat) and I do not represent any party. It must be understood that the people of Afghanistan are not in a good situation. We in Iran are witnessing an increase in the number of Afghan refugees, and each has its own problems,” Soleimani stated.
The diplomat noted that everyone must accept that negotiation is the best way to resolve the problems of Afghanistan.
“My narration of the meeting that took place between the veterans of the Islamic Emirate, Ismail Khan, Ahmad Massoud and Molavi Hessam (chief of the Afghanistan Islamic Brotherhood) on behalf of the politicians, is that these talks were initiated and hosted by the Islamic Republic of Iran during Muttaqi’s visit to Tehran. The Islamic Republic of Iran arranged the meeting for the Afghan parties to come and talk to each other” in Tehran, he stated.
The meeting between Afghan sides in Tehran was good because it lasted five hours and key issues, including women’s rights, were discussed and both sides spoke openly, chairman of Afghan embassy in Tehran says.
Soleimani continued by saying that in his opinion the meeting was a good one because it lasted five hours and key issues were discussed and both sides spoke openly.
“Muttaqi, Ismail Khan and Massoud discussed the issues that was important and they suggested ways to solve it. The meeting was held in a calm, constructive and good atmosphere, and it is natural that the negotiations focus on solving problems, and both sides have their own opinions,” the diplomat asserted
“Inclusive government should be formed”
Soleimani continued by saying that Ismail Khan said that an “inclusive government” should be formed to solve the problem of Afghanistan. He discussed the constitution, women’s rights and such issues that should be resolved within the framework of social justice.
According to the diplomat, Ahmad Massoud also raised good issues in the same direction.
“We are not for war and we are for peace,” Soleimani quoted Massoud as saying.
The diplomat added Ismail Khan also said that the war does not bring any results because there has been war in Afghanistan for 40 years and the result is what “we are watching”.
Soleimani continued by saying that the Afghan parties must reach a conclusion through negotiations.
“Muttaqi and his friends also expressed their views and the talks between the parties went well. Naturally, this was the first meeting, and more time is needed to reach a common point of view, and we should not expect a result in the Tehran talks soon,” the diplomat noted.
He added that both sides expressed their readiness to work for the problems of Afghanistan and Iran also supported the continuation of these talks and announced that it is ready to host these meetings regardless of the number of participants and different political spectrums.
Soleimani pointed out that Muttaqi’s words were also positive in the meeting.
The atmosphere of dialogue between Massoud, Ismail Khan and Amir Khan Muttaqi was also positive, according to the diplomat.
Soleimani also rebuffed some rumors about Muttaqi’s anger at the end of the meeting, saying it is also a question for him that the issues raised to solve Afghanistan’s problems are expressed in a different way.
“We must tell the truth if we really believe that the Afghanistan problem and its solution requires inter-Afghan dialogue. I did not see such a thing as the caretaker of the embassy and the representative of the Afghan people. When I talk about the intimacy of the space, I mean the two sides sat at a table and talked for 5 hours,” he added.
He said Afghanistan’s embassy has to do its mission by telling the truth.
“I think maybe the initial request was that the details would not be announced until the negotiations have progressed, and after it was announced, everyone will take a stand, but the issue is important. The people of Afghanistan need to know that their leaders are working to solve their problems. On the first night, Ismail Khan, Ahmad Massoud, Molavi Hessam and Dr. Feizizadeh were present, and on the second night, Dr. Shams, the former governor of Badgheis, was present, and Massoud was absent due to his problems,” he elaborated on the details of the meeting.
“Serious discussions held about structure of constitutional system”
The caretaker ambassador said that there were very serious discussions about structure of a constitutional system and the values that lead to a democratic system and formation of a “universal wisdom”.
According to the diplomat, Muttaqi did not take a negative stance on the “allegations”, believing them to be preliminary, and saying he would raise the issue in Kabul.
He added, “On the second night, it was concluded that after a re-examination, with the mediation of Iran, if this framework is recognized and the leaders were interested, these meetings will continue.”
Regarding the differences between the two sides, he said that there are definitely differences over issues that have led to the meeting, and to discuss them the parties themselves must comment, and everyone must move the discussion to a direction where the spirit of talks and positive negotiations are prevalent to solve problems.
He also said he did not know about Ahmad Massoud’s residence, but said that Ismail Khan lives in Mashhad.
“I do not think that any political party came to this meeting. Ismail Khan is one of the prominent leaders of Afghanistan and he has played a role in the developments of Afghanistan over the last forty years, and as for Ahmad Massoud, he is also the son of the national hero of Afghanistan. These talks were about Afghanistan and ethnic groups,” he stated, pointing that none of the opposition leaders represented a political party.
“Iranian making efforts for dialogue between Afghan sides”
The diplomat continued by saying that he has witnessed Iran’s efforts to make the Afghan leaders negotiate.
“What I saw in the negotiations was that the Islamic Republic was trying to talk to the parties. This means that they were interested in the negotiations going to the next stage and the role of the Islamic Republic is positive.” Regarding international aid to Afghan refugees in Iran, Soleimani said that about two weeks ago representatives of international organizations traveled to Tehran and talked about refugees.
“Assistance should be provided at two levels: assistance to refugees and assistance to the people of Afghanistan in order to prevent migration and poverty,” he noted.
Regarding the rumors about the transfer of the Afghan embassy in Tehran to the Taliban, he said that during Muttaqi’s visit to Tehran, the talks took place and other issues were raised, but this issue was not raised.
“After the ambassador left Iran, I legally became the head of the Afghan embassy,” he said. “In line with Muttaqi’s visit to Tehran, many controversies were made, one of which was the issue of the Afghan embassy in Tehran, and it was induced that after Muttaqi’s meeting with Ismail Khan, I was chosen as the caretaker of the embassy.”
The diplomat added that he has been working in the Afghan Foreign Ministry for 13 years and he has been working as the deputy ambassador in Tehran for two years.
“I have been the head of the embassy since the day the ambassador resigned, and on November 20, I received a letter from the Afghan Foreign Ministry signed by Muttaqi stating that I am the head of the embassy,” he told reporters present at the briefing.