Press TV -†The Pentagon has acknowledged†Iranís key role in restoring peace and stability to war-torn Afghanistan, backtracking on Washingtonís earlier claims that Tehran supports the local Taliban militant group.
ďIran seeks a stable Afghan government that is responsive to Iranian goals, the elimination of ISIS-K, the removal of the US/NATO presence, and the protection of Iranian concerns, such as water rights and border security,Ē the US Department of Defense said in a report sent to Congress this week.
The Pentagon also admitted Iranís influence in Afghanistan, saying that Tehran pursues ďa multitrack strategyĒ of engaging with the Afghan government and seeks to boost bilateral economic ties with Kabul.
ďIranian involvement is most prominent in western, central, and northern Afghanistan, where local Afghans share common history, culture, religion, and language with Iran,Ē according to the report.
The report comes as Iran has announced it is engaged in negotiations with the Afghan Taliban to help settle the existing security challenges facing the neighboring country.
Tehranís announcement came after US President Donald Trump had ordered a withdrawal of nearly half of the American forces stationed in Afghanistan, more than 17 years after Washington and its allies invaded Afghanistan.
The invasion overthrew the Taliban regime. But US forces have remained bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Trump.
Taliban militants have warned that they will be stepping up their attacks until the US forces fully withdraw from Afghanistan after more than a decade and half of occupation.
Meanwhile, the Daesh terror group has also taken advantage of the chaos to establish a foothold in Afghanistan, further complicating the Afghan governmentís efforts to uproot terrorism.
During a visit to Afghanistan on Wednesday, Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iranís Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said Tehran had been holding a series of talks with the Taliban group ďwith the knowledge of the Afghan governmentĒ and would continue to do so in the future.
Shamkhani made the comments during a meeting with Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan presidentís national security adviser in the capital Kabul.
Accompanied by a number of high-ranking security, military and political officials, Shamkhani paid a one-day visit to Afghanistan, where he met with senior Afghan officials, including President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and former president Hamid Karzai.
During his talks with Karzai, Shamkhani slammed Washingtonís double standards in its so-called fight on terror, describing the US presence in the region as a main cause of instability and insecurity.
Karzai, for his part, praised Iranís support for Afghanistan, saying the Afghan people and government are confident that the Islamic Republic would play effective role in promoting peace in Afghanistan.
In†an address to the Geneva Conference†on Afghanistan last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on the international community to facilitate ďinclusiveĒ dialog between the Afghan Taliban and the government in a bid to restore peace to the conflict-plagued country.