Iran joins talks on Afghan strategy

ROME — Iran for the first time joined a U.S. and NATO-dominated coordinating group on Afghanistan on Monday, sending a delegation to participate in discussions here on coalition military strategy that included a closed-door report by Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan.

Iran's presence, along with representation from nearly a dozen other Muslim countries, as well as the Organization of the Islamic Conference "shows we are on a common path. We are not alone," said Michael Steiner, Germany's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration's top Afghanistan representative, said Washington was "asked whether we had any problem" with Iran attending. "We said no. We recognize that Iran has a role to play in the peaceful settlement of the situation in Afghanistan."

Cooperation on Afghanistan, he said, had no bearing on U.S. efforts to curtail Iran's nuclear program and other issues that are "discussed elsewhere."

Election fraud: Electoral officials sifting through thousands of complaints of vote fraud in last month's parliamentary elections said Monday that ballots from about one-tenth of Afghanistan's voting centers had been tossed out, with more disqualifications likely, the Los Angeles Times reported. The release of preliminary results are due Wednesday.

Iran joins talks on Afghan strategy 10/18/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 18, 2010 11:19pm]

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