By Natasha Phillips

A fresh round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government officials was held in Tehran this week, following a months-long stalemate between Afghanistan’s warring factions. The talks come as the US pulls out all of its troops from the country.

Iran’s foreign minister said in a tweet posted on Wednesday that he had chaired the talks, and in a separate statement urged the parties to work towards a peaceful solution for Afghanistan.

The Iranian government’s involvement in the talks raised concerns that the Islamic Republic was using the negotiations as a means to protect its own interests in the region, including its improved relationship with the Taliban.

A report by the UN’s atomic watchdog confirmed that Iran had begun to enrich uranium metal, putting the country in breach of terms set out in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The development was heavily criticized by the US, and EU powers signed up to the JCPOA saying the move could jeapordize the revival of the deal.

The enrichment brings Iran a step closer to producing a nuclear weapon, which JCPOA signatories Britain, France and Germany, said was of “grave concern.”

And 63 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) released a statement condemning the grave human rights situation in Iran and urged the EU to impose additional sanctions on the regime.

In the letter, the lawmakers called on the EU to “address the yearning of the Iranian people for freedom and democracy,” and criticized the UN and the international community over failures to address the human rights violations in Iran.

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