TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday it would consider a U.S. invitation to take part in a meeting on Afghanistan and it was ready to offer any help to its neighbour.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that President Barrack Obama’s government intended to invite Iran to an international conference on Afghanistan planned for this month.
“If America and European countries and others need to use Iran, they should give us (the invitation). We will review it with the approach that we are ready to offer any help to Afghanistan,” Iranian government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham told a news conference.
Obama, in a turnaround from Bush administration policy, has said the United States wants to engage Iran on a range of issues. The conference invitation would be the start of diplomatic initiative to Tehran.
Clinton proposed the conference, which brings in Afghanistan’s other neighbours including Pakistan and other players, would take place on March 31.
“It is a way of bringing all the stakeholders and interested parties together,” Clinton said in Brussels after meeting NATO foreign ministers. She was in Turkey on Saturday.
Iran borders Afghanistan and worked closely with the United States after the U.S. military offensive there to topple the Taliban and fight al Qaeda following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
The United States is at loggerheads with Iran on a range of issues, including its nuclear programme which Washington says is aimed at building an atomic bomb. Tehran says its programme is for peaceful power purposes.
The United States cut off diplomatic ties with Tehran during the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, in which a group of militant Iranian students held 52 U.S. diplomats hostage at the American embassy for 444 days.