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Iran says could attend Afghan conference in London

26 January 2010 [19:40] - TODAY.AZ
Iran is considering attending a summit in London this week on Afghanistan but must first be convinced that the West is prepared to take a regional approach to stabilising the country, Reuters reported.

The conference on Thursday is expected to discuss a framework for NATO forces to gradually hand over security responsibilities to Afghan authorities.

"If a regional approach is adopted towards the resolution of Afghanistan issues, if this plays an important role at the London conference, it would be grounds for Iran to attend," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said at a weekly press briefing.

"If we fail to reach the conclusion that the London conference approach would lead to the resolution of Afghanistan issues, it is unlikely we would take a positive view on participating."

Western powers want regional players to cooperate in bringing stability to a country where U.S. and other foreign troops back the government of President Hamid Karzai in the face of an insurgency by the Islamist Taliban.

Afghanistan's neighbours, including Iran, met in Istanbul on Tuesday to find a "single voice" in their approach to the conflict ahead of the London conference. But Iran has not said definitively that it will attend the Thursday meeting.

Karzai is expected to give details of a programme to reach out to Taliban insurgents as part of a political settlement.

Mehmanparast said the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan was a key reason for the problems in its eastern neigbour. Western forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001, when the United States led an invasion to drive the Taliban from power over their alliance with al Qaeda.

"Military intervention has been wrong from the beginning. Terrorism was not uprooted, narcotics were not restricted and other problems in Afghanistan were not solved," he said.

/Trend News/

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