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U.S. Considers Iran For Afghan Talks


U.S. Considers Iran For Afghan Talks
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has suggested Iran be invited to an international conference on Afghanistan planned for the end of March.

Secretary of State Clinton called it "a big tent meeting" for "everyone who has an interest in the stability of Afghanistan to come together and determine how we're going to work toward the security and stability there." Iran, said Secretary Clinton, "would be invited as a neighbor of Afghanistan."

Iranian authorities have said they are considering the invitation to attend the conference. Iranian government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said that Afghanistan is a top priority for Iran. "Afghanistan's progress is our progress and Afghanistan's stability is ours," he said.

America's top military commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army General David McKiernan, as recently as this month accused Iran of supporting the insurgency in Afghanistan. But he also said that Iran has "legitimate" cultural and economic ties to its neighbor. "I am hopeful Iran can be part of the solution, as opposed to being part of the problem," he said.

Secretary of State Clinton pointed out that the Iranians "were helpful early on in our efforts in Afghanistan. ... There were almost daily contacts, a little known fact, between our Ambassador to Afghanistan and Iran's ambassador to Afghanistan. ... We sometimes lose track of the complex relationships that exist. So we will invite them. Whether they come is up to them.
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