Iran has a role in Afghan talks: US

The United States recognises that Iran has a role to play in resolving the Afghan conflict, US envoy Richard Holbrooke said on Monday, as Tehran joined talks with a high-level group on Afghanistan for the first time.

Last Updated: Oct 19, 2010, 12:56 PM IST

Rome: The United States recognises that Iran has a role to play in resolving the Afghan conflict, US envoy Richard Holbrooke said on Monday, as Tehran joined talks with a high-level group on Afghanistan for the first time.

An Iranian representative joined a meeting in Rome of almost 50 officials from the international contact group on Afghanistan to discuss progress in the transfer of security responsibility to Afghan forces.

"The story here is very simple. This is the first time the Iranians have attended this meeting," Holbrooke told a news conference, adding that Washington saw no objection to the presence of its long-time foe at the talks.

"We were asked whether we had any problems with that and we said `No`," Holbrooke, the US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, told a news conference.

"We recognize that Iran, with its long, almost completely open border with Afghanistan and with a huge drug problem ... has a role to play in the peaceful settlement of this situation in Afghanistan. So for the United States there is no problem with their presence."

The United States has periodically accused Iran of helping insurgents in Afghanistan. Tehran denies supporting militant groups there and blames the instability on the presence of Western troops.

Iranian special representative Mohammed Ali Qanezadeh said on Monday the main problems in the region were insecurity, drug trafficking and the presence of foreign forces, but he said the talks in Rome had been "fruitful".

Bureau Report