Obama administration's contact with Iran confirmed

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The Hague (Netherlands), Apr.1 (ANI): US Presidential envoy Richard C. Holbrooke met an Iranian diplomat here, marking the first face-to-face encounter between the Obama administration and the Government of Iran.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed that Holbrooke, the administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, greeted Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister, Mohammad Mehdi Akhondzadeh, on the sidelines of a major conference here devoted to Afghanistan.

"It was cordial, unplanned and they agreed to stay in touch. I myself did not have any direct contact with the Iranian delegation," the New York Times quoted Clinton as telling reporters at the end of the conference.

Clinton also said the United States handed the Iranian delegation a letter requesting its intercession in the cases of two American citizens who are being held in Iran and another who is missing.

These two American contacts with Iran are another step in the Obama administration's policy of engagement.

According to the paper, it is a tentative process, in which the White House makes symbolic gestures, like President Obama's recent video greeting to the Iranian people and government for their New Year, while continuing to formulate its longer-term strategy.

Some officials, including Clinton, are skeptical that Iran's leaders will ever embrace the American overtures.

But reaching out, analysts say, keeps Iran on the defensive by demonstrating to the Europeans, the Russians and others that the United States is sincerely trying. (ANI)

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