Taliban head to Iran for talks over border skirmishes, refugees
The Taliban's acting minister for refugees and repatriations, Khalilurahman Haqqani, is set to lead the delegation with the aim of “solving” problems faced by Afghans in Iran, including border clashes and allegations of mistreatment of refugees, Afghan media outlet TOLONews reported.
The visit follows skirmishes between Iranian border guards and local Afghan forces in the Islam Qala district, west of Herat, last weekend when Taliban forces were accused of building a road “without prior coordination” with the Iranian side.
Afghan authorities then seized a vehicle belonging to Iranian forces, according to the deputy commissioner of Islam Qala district. This prompted both sides to put their border forces on high alert.
“We are trying to visit Iran to talk about all the problems that Afghans are struggling with there; we hope we can talk and solve the problems,” said Haqqani.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a press briefing on Monday that border disputes were a recurring “matter of concern,” adding that Tehran “was prepared to give training to Afghan border guards,” reported the Tehran Times.
Since the Taliban returned to power last summer, tensions between their self-proclaimed "Islamic Emirate" and Tehran have flared repeatedly.
In December 2021, fierce clashes were reported in the border area between Iran’s Shagalak and Afghanistan’s Nimroz, fueled by a border wall Iran was constructing.
More recently, videos allegedly showing Afghan refugees being beaten by Iranian guards triggered large protests outside the Iranian consulates in Herat and Kabul. Iran summoned Afghanistan’s charge d’affaires over the incident.
Tehran has not recognised Afghanistan's new Taliban administration yet.
However, Khatibzadeh stressed on Monday that Afghan diplomats should be able to travel to and from their embassies without interference, and added: “The recognition path is another path that must be followed,” according to the Tehran Times.