Iran, Taliban say US pushing war in Afghanistan

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Tehran/Tel Aviv

Iranian and Taliban officials met in Tehran on Wednesday and accused the US of provoking the continuation of the war in Afghanistan, Iranian State TV reported.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told visiting Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar that the US seeks to continue the war in Afghanistan.

“The US strategy supports the continuation of war and bloodshed among various Afghan groups in the political spectrum,” Shamkhani was quoted as saying. He said the US tries to blame insecurity and instability in the country on individual Afghan groups.
There was no immediate comment from the US, which signed a peace agreement with the Taliban last February and met its goal this month of reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan to about 2,500.

Baradar, who arrived Monday with a Taliban delegation, criticized the U.S. for allegedly breaking its commitments to the February deal. He did not elaborate. “We do not trust the US and will fight any group that is a mercenary for the US,” he said.
Meanwhile, Israel’s military chief Tuesday warned the Biden administration against rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, even if it toughens its terms, adding he’s ordered his forces to step up preparations for possible offensive action against Iran during the coming year.

The comments by Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi came as Israel and Iran both seek to put pressure on President Joe Biden ahead of his expected announcement on his approach for dealing with the Iranian nuclear program. In Iran, leaders said they would not wait indefinitely for Biden to act.

In his address to the Institute for National Security Studies, Kohavi said a return to the deal, even with some improvements, “is bad operationally and it is bad strategically.” He said allowing Iran to proceed with a nuclear program would be “an unacceptable threat and will lead to nuclear proliferation across the region.” Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Kohavi said that given the threat posed by Iran, Israel’s military would be prepared to attack its own if needed. “I instructed the army to prepare many operational plans in addition to the existing ones,” he said. “We are taking care of these plans and will develop them during the coming year. Those who decide on carrying them out, of course, are the political leaders. But these plans have to be on the table.” — Agencies

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