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NATO, Iran hold first talks in 30 years

By Xinhua,

Brussels : Diplomats from the NATO and Iran held their first talks in 30 years here, focusing on possible cooperation on Afghanistan, an official said here.

An Iranian diplomat met NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy Martin Erdmann, the alliance’s spokesman James Appathurai told reporters.

Appathurai said that it was “a first informal contact” and the Iranian side is interested in cooperation on Afghanistan. The spokesman refused to identify the Iranian diplomat.

Iran will take part in a UN conference on the future of Afghanistan to be held in The Hague next week, Iranian Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi said earlier Thursday.

However, reports quoted him as saying that “the level of participation is not clear”.

The NATO spokesman did not say whether there will be a second meeting between Iran and NATO in The Hague. The alliance is playing a key role in maintaining peace and stability in Afghanistan, which neighbours Iran.

In Washington, the US State Department Wednesday said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not planning to have a separate meeting with Iran’s delegation at an international conference on Afghanistan in the Hague March 31.

“I will not rule out the fact that there could be some kind of a greeting of some type, but there’s no plan, as far as I know, for there to be a meeting between the two delegations,” State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood told reporters.

“This conference is more than just the US and Iran. It’s about Afghanistan and the situation in the region. And that’s where we need to keep our focus,” he said.