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Iran, NATO in first talks in 30 years: NATO officials

world Updated: Mar 26, 2009 21:54 IST

An Iranian diplomat and a NATO official have had "informal contact" for the first time in 30 years, holding discussions in Brussels which touched on Afghanistan, NATO officials confirmed on Thursday.

A NATO official said the visit last week by the diplomat, who was not identified, was the first "since the regime of the Shah" of Iran, which collapsed in 1979.

He noted that "the Iranians are interested in possible cooperation on Afghanistan" to better confront the problems posed by opium production there and an influx of Afghan refugees across their border.

"There were exploratory contacts recently. Nothing of substance was discussed. It was a first informal contact between an Iranian diplomat and a representative of the secretary general," a second NATO official added.

Earlier Thursday, Iran announced that it would attend a major international meeting on Afghanistan in The Hague in Netherlands next week.

Iran has close ethnic and religious ties with Afghanistan, but the Islamic republic has suffered badly from the effects of surging opium production, with cheap and readily available heroin fuelling a sharp rise in drug use.