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Iran Offers Help For Afghanistan

Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. has forged a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan aimed at disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida and its allies. The new U.S. strategy provides a stepped up American military commitment in Afghanistan, as well as greater civilian support to develop Afghanistan's economy, agriculture, and infrastructure.

It also calls for additional U.S. support for Pakistan to help the Pakistani government rout out the extremists threatening the stability of both countries, and to aid Pakistan in strengthening its economy and democracy.

The goal of stability in Afghanistan and the region will not be reached without the combined efforts of the international community. In recognition of that fact, representatives of more than 80 countries met on March 31st at The Hague for a conference sponsored by the Dutch government, the government of Afghanistan, and the United Nations to discuss policy toward Afghanistan. A prominent participant in the meeting was the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In his address to the conference, Iranian deputy foreign minister Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh announced that Tehran was ready to help in fighting drug trafficking and with developing and reconstructing Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who represented the U.S. at the conference, called the Iranian offer "promising." At the sidelines of the conference, Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, met with Mr. Akhoundzadeh in what was called an unplanned and cordial meeting. Secretary of State Clinton said the two officials "agreed to stay in touch."

In her address to the meeting in The Hague, Secretary Clinton said that the problems in Afghanistan "cannot be solved without the Afghan people" [and] they cannot be solved without the help of Afghanistan's neighbors. Trafficking in narcotics, the spread of violent extremism, economic stagnation, water management, electrification and irrigation are regional challenges that require regional solutions."

Secretary of State Clinton said that if Afghanistan is to succeed it needs the help of all the nations present at the conference. Quoting President Barack Obama, Mrs. Clinton said, "The world cannot afford the price that will come due if Afghanistan slides back into chaos ... and, as we make commitments and contributions, we all must be willing to coordinate those efforts together."