Iran says U.S. "failure" in Afghanistan a chance for durable peace

DUBAI, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday the United States' "military failure" in Afghanistan offered an opportunity to establish lasting peace in the country.

Taliban insurgents took control of the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday following a rout of the U.S.-backed Afghan army as foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan.

Washington has accused Iran in the past of providing covert aid to Taliban fighters against U.S. forces. Tehran, which supports an inclusive Afghan government that would include all ethnic groups and sects, has denied this.

"America's military defeat and its withdrawal must become an opportunity to restore life, security and durable peace in Afghanistan," Iran's state TV quoted Raisi as saying.

"Iran backs efforts to restore stability in Afghanistan and, as a neighbouring and brother nation, Iran invites all groups in Afghanistan to reach a national agreement."

Shi’ite Muslim Iran has been a foe of the hardline Sunni Muslim Taliban for decades, but for the past few years it has been openly meeting Taliban leaders. In July, Tehran hosted a meeting of then Afghan government representatives and a high-level Taliban political committee.

Oil-producing Iran, a destination for Afghans seeking work or fleeing war, said on Sunday it had prepared accommodation in three provinces to provide temporary refuge to Afghans fleeing their country.

But with its economy stifled by U.S. sanctions, Iran has encouraged many of the more than 2 million undocumented and over 800,000 registered Afghan refugees in the Islamic Republic to return home.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Timothy Heritage

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