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Italy might invite Iran to Afghan talks

Reuters / February 24, 2009
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BRUSSELS - Italy said yesterday it was considering inviting Iran to an international meeting on Afghanistan to be held in June, which the United States is expected to attend.

The conference would discuss securing the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight the "spillover" of terrorism, drugs and organized crime, a senior Italian diplomat said. Iran shares borders with both countries.

"I'll speak to Madam Clinton this week in Washington about it . . . the possibility of involving Iran," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.

Iran said yesterday it had been invited by Italy to the meeting, which is expected to be attended by representatives of the Obama administration.

Frattini, outlining Italy's goals as it heads the Group of Eight presidency, said in Brussels that the talks would bring together the world's richest countries and Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India, China, and Turkey, among others, to find ways of bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Iran is embroiled in a fight with the West over its disputed nuclear program, but President Obama has expressed possible readiness to talk to its leaders.

The head of NATO, which leads some 55,000 troops in Afghanistan, has said dialogue with Iran is crucial to fighting the insurgency there.

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