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Afghanistan's Allies Pledge Cooperation


A one-day international conference aimed at bringing peace to Afghanistan ended Sunday with an agreement to work more closely to help ensure security in the war-torn country.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Afghan counterpart, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, attended the closed-door meeting in the Paris suburb of La Celle Saint Cloud.

Top European and Indian officials, as well as envoys from China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were also present.

But another major regional player, Iran, was absent, a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called off a meeting with his French counterpart.

Mottaki gave to reason for the cancellation. It came after Iran summoned the French ambassador in Tehran, Bernard Poletti, to protest remarks by President Nicolas Sarkozy that were critical of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The French president said he will not sit at the same table with Mr. Ahmadinejad because he has called for the destruction of Israel.

Mr. Sarkozy also expressed regret that Iran has the "misfortune," as he put it, of being represented by leaders such as Mr. Ahmadinejad.

President Ahmadinejad has sparked international controversy by calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and describing the Holocaust as a "myth."

Meanwhile, in violence Sunday, a bomb hidden in a wooden cart killed three police officers and wounded at least 11 others, including six civilians, in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Local officials say the attack targeted a police vehicle.

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

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