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Saturday 01 October 2011

Iran`s Islamic regime welcomes Taliban members

Iran quietly hosted a delegation of Taliban members in Tehran this month in a powerful and unusual signal of its ambition to shape the trajectory of the Afghan conflict as U.S. troops begin to withdraw .
Iranian officials had apparently hoped to facilitate a meeting between the delegation and Burhanuddin Rabbani, leader of Afghanistan's reconciliation efforts who was attending the same conference in Tehran. Rabbani was assassinated in Kabul later in the month .
Although the meeting did not happen, the presence of the Taliban members suggests Iran has cultivated deeper ties with the insurgent group than was previously known and is stepping up efforts to influence its eastern neighbor as the U.S. role recedes .
The relationship between Iran and the Taliban's central leadership has long been deeply fraught; when the Taliban was running Afghanistan in the 1990s, the two countries came to the brink of war .
U.S. officials have for years accused Iran of fueling the Afghan war by providing training and sophisticated weapons to individual insurgent commanders. There have been few signs of senior-level contact between the Taliban and Iran .
Hosting Taliban members at the Tehran conference might have been an attempt by Iranian officials to mend ties as it becomes clear the group will be a major power broker in Afghanistan after the United States withdraws its last combat troops in 2014 .

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

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