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Clinton says US met with Iran delegate

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The US made diplomatic overtures to Iran at a one-day conference on Afghanistan in The Hague Tuesday, where the Islamic Republic said it would help rebuild Afghanistan but criticized the Obama administration's proposed troop increases. The US and Iran have not had diplomatic relations in almost three decades.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there was rare high-level contact between Richard Holbrooke, US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed Mehdi Akhundzadeh. But Iran's foreign ministry denied that any meeting took place.

Western officials say Tuesday's overtures, made against the backdrop of the Obama administration's new push for Afghan security, are an encouraging sign that efforts to reach out to Iran may bear fruit. But differences between the two old adversaries remain, and Iran appears resistant to admitting to a warming of ties.

According to Reuters, Mrs. Clinton announced direct diplomatic contact between the two nations, and said the US delivered a letter to Iran requesting help locating three missing Americans.

Clinton said the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, met briefly with Iranian deputy foreign minister Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh on the sidelines of the Hague conference.
"It did not focus on anything substantive. It was cordial, it was unplanned and they agreed to stay in touch," Clinton said.
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