Reclusive Taliban leader promises to release all Iranian prisoners

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s reclusive Taliban leader attempted to defuse tensions with neighboring Iran on Wednesday by promising to release all Iranian nationals still detained in the country.
Mullah Mohammed Omar’s promise was made to U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi during more than three hours of negotiations Wednesday in the Taliban’s stronghold of Kandahar.
About 50 Iranians were believed to be in custody in southern Kandahar, captured in August when the Taliban overran the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Radio Shariat said 25 Iranians were being held captive.
Brahimi also extracted a promise from Omar to meet with Iran — a meeting the U.N. envoy said “needs to take place urgently.”
Brahimi is the first U.N. envoy to meet face to face with Omar, the man who has undisputed control over the hard-line Taliban movement that rules 90 percent of Afghanistan.
Omar promised to send a Taliban delegation to Islamabad to meet U.N. officials to “create conditions that will allow the United Nations to return to Afghanistan,” Brahimi said.