Iran denies any encounter at Tuesday's Afghanistan Conference in the Hague. The US and Iran have had no diplomatic ties for 30 years.
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.
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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