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Iran attends Afghan diplomatic talks for first time

world Updated: Oct 18, 2010 19:17 IST
AFP
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Iran took part in top-level international diplomatic talks on Afghanistan for the first time on Monday, with participants including the US recognising that the Islamic repbulic has a key role to play.

"We recognise that Iran... has a role to play in the peaceful settlement of the situation in Afhganistan," Richard Holbrooke, the US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said on the sidelines of the talks in Rome.

Referring to Iran taking part, he said: "We were asked whether we had any problem with that. We said no.... What we are discussing here is not affected by nor will it affect the bilateral issues" between Tehran and Washington.

"It's another indication that the international effort to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan... is not a clash of civilizations at all," he added.

The meeting of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan brought together senior diplomats representing 46 countries, including nine member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Italy's special representative to Afghanistan, Massimo Iannucci, said: "Iran is too important to be excluded."

Iannnucci said there were "common interests" with Iran including the issues of drug trafficking and illegal immigration across the Iranian-Afghan border.

"Iran... is part of the solution to the problem," he added.

Michael Steiner, Germany's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who was chairing the talks, said: "This has nothing to do with the nuclear issue, we are talking here about Afghanistan and Afghanistan only."

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