Iran Hails Opening of Afghanistan’s Peace Grand Assembly

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during the first day of the Loya Jirga, or the consultative council in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, April 29, 2019. / Photo by AP

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi says Tehran welcomes and supports any process and dialogue that contributes to peace, stability, and sustainable security in Afghanistan.

Mousavi’s Tuesday comments came in reaction to the opening of the Peace Loya Jirga (grand assembly) in Kabul.

Thousands of Afghans congregated in Kabul on Monday for a rare consultative meeting aimed at finding ways to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban and end Afghanistan’s war.

The four-day consultative grand assembly, known as a Loya Jirga, is aimed at building consensus among various ethnic groups and tribal factions and is traditionally convened under extraordinary circumstances.

This week’s meeting, being attended by 3,200 tribal elders, and community and religious leaders from all 34 provinces, aims to set out Kabul’s conditions for any peace deal.

President Ashraf Ghani invited the Taliban to the Loya Jirga but they have urged people to boycott it, denouncing it as an attempt by the Western-backed government to deceive the country and extend what the Taliban see as its illegitimate rule.

“Do not participate in the enemy’s conspiracy under the name of Jirga, instead find ways to further sideline the shaky administration of Kabul,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

In the past, the Taliban have fired rockets at the Loya Jirga tent, and much of Kabul was under virtual lock down on Monday, amid a massive security operation for the meeting.

Western diplomats believe the assembly is an attempt by President Ghani to influence peace talks between the United States and the Taliban, which the Taliban have excluded his government from.

Ghani, who hopes to secure a second term in presidential election set for September, is feeling isolated from the peace process and the Loya Jirga was a bid to broaden his support, Western diplomats in Kabul said.

   
   

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