Taliban foreign minister meets resistance leader Ahmed Massoud in Iran

Jan 10, 2022: The Taliban’s foreign minister said on Monday that he had talked to Ahmed Massoud, the son of prominent Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, in Iran over the weekend and assured him of his safety if he returned home.

Massoud’s Panjshir Valley forces provided the last resistance to the Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan in September, weeks after government troops surrendered. In a video posted by state media on Twitter on Monday, Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said he had also met Ismail Khan, a fighter from Herat province, who surrendered to the Taliban and left the country.

The Taliban had announced Mottaqi’s departure for Tehran to hold talks with Iranian officials, but did not mention any plans to meet with exiled leaders.

“We met commander Ismail Khan and Ahmad Massoud, and other Afghans in Iran, and assured them that anyone can come to Afghanistan and live without any concerns,” Muttaqi said in the video.

“It’s home to all, and we do not create insecurity or other problems for anyone. Everyone can come freely and live.”

The Panjshir Valley is known for being a place of resistance against the Soviet forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in their first term in power in the late 1990s. Its most respected figure is Ahmad Shah Massoud, known as the “Lion of Panjshir”, who was assassinated by al-Qaeda in 2001, two days before the 9/11 attacks.

His son has since taken office, and there are reports that he is coordinating resistance with other exiled Afghan leaders. The Massoud-led National Resistance Front has repeatedly condemned the Taliban – calling it an “illegitimate government” – but appears to have carried out no physical attacks.

Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country with several senior officials as the Taliban closed in on Kabul, but several other top leaders remained – including former head of state Hamid Karzai.

The Taliban has promised a general amnesty to all opponents and critics since taking power, but rights groups say at least 100 former government officials have been killed since then.

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