Iran joins US for first time for talks on Afghanistan's future

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Tehran, Oct 19 (ANI): Iran took part in high-level discussions on Afghanistan on Monday for the first time after the US assured that it had no "no problem" with its participation.

The international "contact group" reportedly met in Rome amid a renewed push to end the nine-year-old war in Afghanistan, including bringing Taliban into peace talks. Discussion on these issues would reportedly be further explored at a Nato summit in Lisbon next month.

According to the BBC, Iran sent its special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Ghanazadeh joined the group, which gathers the Afghan government, NATO, the EU, U.N. and other key players, including Iran this time, to assess progress in Afghanistan.

Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan said that Iran had "a role to play" in tackling the problems.We recognise 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," he added.

He further stated that the "bilateral issues" of Iran's nuclear programme would not affect the discussions. Iran has be repeating that its nuclear programme is purely for civilian purposes but America suspects that it is a cover for creating atomic weapons.

The "contact group" also invited the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), which represents over 50 states and promotes Muslim solidarity, to attend.

Michael Steiner, Germany's special envoy and chairman of the meeting, said that the talks were aimed at moving towards "a realistic aim, which is sufficient stability for Afghanistan and essential human rights".

Talking about the next month's Nato summit, Holbrooke said that there would be no specific announcement of provinces that would be handed over to Afghan forces at the meeting. (ANI)

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