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Afghanistan Gains Seat on IAEA Board


Members of the United Nations nuclear agency have elected Afghanistan to the group's board of governors.

Kabul won its place on the board Friday in Vienna, after its final rival in the race, Syria, dropped out earlier in the day.

Afghanistan will take the seat reserved for the Middle East and South Asia group. Arab nations had backed Syria, while the U.S. had favored Afghanistan getting the seat.

The vote came on the last day of a week-long conference of the 145 members of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The talks focused heavily on Syria and Iran's disputed nuclear programs.

Before dropping its bid for a seat today, Syria said it would cooperate fully with a U.N. investigation of possible nuclear activites. But Damascus drew the line at giving access to sites that it said could compromise its national security.

The IAEA sent inspectors to Syria earlier this year to investigate a site bombed by Israel a year ago. Israel said the remote desert site was an undisclosed nuclear facility.

Syria has denied building a reactor or hiding any nuclear activity.

The conference also has allowed the member nations to discuss general policies on a range of issues, from non-proliferation to medical applications of nuclear technology.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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