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News number: 8712230466

12:45 | 2009-03-13

Foriegn Policy

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Iran Denies Accepting US Invitation on Afghan Conference

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran on Friday dismissed media reports that Tehran has accepted a US invitation to take part in a conference on Afghanistan.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi denied the reports and told FNA, "It is necessary to say that I have not had any public or private interview or talks with media during this week as I was busy all the time with participating in the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit in Tehran."

FNA on Thursday quoted Qashqavi as saying on Wednesday that Iran had accepted the US invitation to a conference on Afghanistan and it is open for talks to help resolve the crisis in the war-torn country.

Qashqavi denied FNA's Thursday report. Press tv and the Iranian students news agency (ISNA) also released the same report on Thursday, saying that Qashqavi had confirmed Iran's participation in the Afghan conference.

On his interview published this week in an Italian newspaper, Qashqavi said it was done last week and stressed, "I totally reject the remarks that quoted me as saying that Iran has accepted the invitation to take part in the Afghanistan conference."

Meanwhile, AFP quoted visiting Iranian Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as saying on Thursday that his government welcomes multilateral talks with the United States and its allies on Afghanistan.

But, he added, Tehran has yet to receive an official invitation from the US administration or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"We have received some news about Mrs. Clinton's overtures, but we have not received an official invitation to any summit," he said through an interpreter during an unofficial visit to Canada.

"I would like to add that any talks related to Afghanistan are important and we welcome them," he said. "This is positive -- any talks on Afghanistan, specially bilateral or multilateral talks on this issue."

Clinton said last week that Iran would be invited to a high-level conference on Afghanistan next month, should the event go ahead.

Before agreeing to attend, however, Mashaie said Tehran would like to know more about the summit agenda.

He commented that the results gained by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in trying to secure Afghanistan "have not been very favorable," adding that its security is of concern to its neighbors, specially to Iran.

He also said Tehran would like to cooperate with Canada "to ease the security crisis in Afghanistan and plan for the aftermath of the departure of its troops" in 2011.