US Inviting Iran to Afghanistan Meeting

Rejecting Bush approach, she wants Tehran at conference table
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2009 5:10 AM CST
Hillary Clinton yesterday attends a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, where relations with Russia and Afghanistan are the key items on the agenda.    (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
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(Newser) – Hillary Clinton has announced the US is inviting Iran to a major conference on Afghanistan this month, setting up the first possible face-to-face meeting between Tehran and the Obama administration. The secretary of state said at a NATO meeting in Brussels that Iran could play a critical role in stabilizing Afghanistan, although she continued a hard-line opposition to any Iranian nuclear program.

The invitation is part of the Obama administration's "carrots and sticks" engagement with Iran—offering diplomatic concessions while yielding nothing on nuclear weapons, reports the New York Times. It's a clear break with the strategy of George Bush, who cut off all ties to Iran in 2002 when he branded it part of the "axis of evil." The UN-hosted conference would take place later this month in the Netherlands. Iran has not yet responded.