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Iran to Attend Afghanistan Meeting with US

By VOA News
26 March 2009

Iran said it will attend a U.N.-sponsored conference on Afghanistan next week that was proposed by the United States.

The Iranian foreign ministry confirmed its plan to attend the meeting in the Netherlands, but did not say who Tehran's representative will be.

The United States will be represented by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who proposed to the conference hosts earlier this month that Iran be invited.

Delegates from around 80 countries have been invited to the conference in The Hague to discuss security and reconstruction in Afghanistan. Iran skipped a similar international meeting in Paris last year.

The March 31 meeting is being hosted by the governments of Afghanistan and the Netherlands, as well as the United Nations.

Afghan forces and international troops led by the U.S. and NATO have been battling a resurgent Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, and regional officials said the insecurity threatens to destabilize neighboring countries.

Iran and the United States severed diplomatic relations nearly 30 years ago, during the hostage crisis that followed the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said he is committed to diplomacy to address what he called "serious differences" between the United States and Iran.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded that he sees no real change in U.S. policy toward Iran. But he said if the United States changes, Iran also will change its behavior.

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

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