Senior U.S. and Iranian leaders met Tuesday on the sidelines of an
international conference in The Hague aimed at re-energizing
international commitments for war-torn Afghanistan. Participants agreed
to boost security and development in the central Asian nation.
of State Hillary Clinton described the meeting that took place between
U.S. special representative Richard Holbrooke and Iran's deputy foreign
minister Mehdi Akhundzadeh as brief but cordial. She said the two
sides had agreed to stay in touch.
In remarks at the conference,
Akhundzadeh criticized international military efforts in Afghanistan.
But he also said Iran was willing to help fight drug trafficking that
is spilling across Iran's border with Afghanistan, and to help in that
country's reconstruction and development.
Clinton called the Iranian diplomat's remarks "promising".
questions of border security and, in particular, the transit of
narcotics across the border from Afghanistan to Iran is a worry that
the Iranians have, which we share," she said. "And we will look for
ways to cooperate with them. And, I think, the fact they came here
today, they intervened today, is a promising sign that there will be
Clinton also said the U.S. had handed a
letter to the Iranian delegation, seeking Tehran's intervention on
behalf of three American citizens in Iran who are unable to return
home. One of them is a former FBI agent, Robert Levinson, who
disappeared while visiting Iran in 2007.
more than 80 countries and international institutions at The Hague
conference stressed the importance of international and regional
cooperation - notably on the part of Pakistan and Iran - in helping to
rebuild Afghanistan. A separate donors' conference on Pakistan will be
held April 17 in Japan.
Diplomats also agreed to work jointly
to improve security, economic and political development in
Afghanistan. That country will be on the agenda again this week during
a NATO summit on the French-German border.