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Iran to share stage with US at Afghanistan conference

Video by James CREEDON

Latest update : 2009-03-27

Iran has confirmed its participation in an international conference on Afghanistan in the Hague this week, which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to attend. Iran and the US broke off diplomatic relations in the early 1980s.

AFP - Iran will take part in an international conference on Afghanistan being staged in The Hague on Tuesday where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will represent the United States, officials said.
   
"Iran has confirmed its participation," Dutch foreign ministry spokesman Bart Rijs told AFP. The Iranian foreign ministry confirmed that it would take part but did not say who would be going.
   
Clinton was one of the main instigators of the conference to discuss security and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, where a Taliban insurgency has become a mounting threat to a NATO-led international force.
   
The March 31 conference is officially being jointly hosted by Afghanistan, the United Nations and the Dutch government. It will be opened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
   
As well as Iran, representatives from other neighbouring countries will also be present. Iran stayed away from a meeting on Afghanistan held in France in December.
   
About 80 countries and 20 international organisations and agencies have been invited to The Hague meeting.
   


Russia is going to host a conference on Afghanistan on Friday to be attended by officials from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation countries, the UN secretary general, the United States and other Group of Eight powers and countries neighbouring Afghanistan.
   
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that NATO must succeed in Afghanistan to ensure that it does not become a base again for "terrorists" to stage attacks.
   
"Afghanistan is NATO's biggest test at present," Merkel said in a speech to parliament ahead of the alliance's 60th anniversary summit in Strasbourg, France and the German towns of Baden-Baden and Kehl on April 3-4.
   
"For me our aim remains clear, against which our success will be measured, that Afghanistan no longer poses a terrorist threat to our security, in other words in NATO member countries. That is our aim," Merkel said.
   
"We should remember that Afghanistan ... was the base for the attacks of September 11, 2001. This was possible because there was no functioning state, and that was the reason for our engagement in Afghanistan, because it threatened our security, the members of NATO."
   
Germany has about 3,500 troops in the 41-nation 60,000-strong International Security Assistance Force. The German parliament voted last year to increase this to 4,500. The United States also has a further 10,000 soldiers there not under NATO command.
   
At the NATO summit next week, US President Barack Obama is expected to press allies, Germany included, to do more in Afghanistan.

Date created : 2009-03-26

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