Clinton seeks Iran help on Afghanistan
THE HAGUE |
THE HAGUE (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday she wanted Iran's help on border security and fighting drugs in Afghanistan, but she had no plans to meet Tehran's delegate at an international meeting.
Clinton played down expectations of her first contact with Iran at Tuesday's Afghanistan conference in The Hague. She will be the highest-level official in the Obama administration to sit at the same table with Tehran.
"I have no plans (to meet the Iranians). I can't forecast tomorrow, but we are looking forward to everyone playing a constructive role," she told reporters travelling with her.
Clinton had personally suggested Iran should send a representative to the Dutch conference, where she will detail Washington's new war strategy in Afghanistan and seek support from allies and others to implement the plan.
She said Iran was cooperative after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan that followed the September, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Border security and counter-narcotics had a direct effect on Iran's well-being and Tehran could be helpful in those areas, in particular, she said.
"I believe there will be an opening by this conference that will enable all the countries, including Iran, to come forward, with how they want to participate," Clinton said.
"The fact that they accepted the invitation to come suggests that they believe there is a role for them to play and we are looking forward to hearing more," she added.
In a reversal of former President George W. Bush's isolation policy of Iran, the Obama administration is actively seeking to engage Tehran, particularly on issues of mutual concern such as Afghanistan.
Clinton's predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, exchanged pleasantries with Iran's foreign minister at international conferences but they never held substantive talks.
(Reporting by Sue Pleming; Editing by Jon Boyle)
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