This week The Hague, Netherlands, hosted a meeting to discuss the future of Afghanistan. Attendees included representatives from 73 nations, 11 international organizations and several observers from non-governmental organizations.
This meeting was very important and we at the UUA applaud the use of multi-lateral discussions and diplomacy to find a speedy and responsible end to the war in Afghanistan.
The UUA also approves of the United States and Iran joining together in dialogue over this cause. Iran has become an important ally in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At this meeting, Iran has agreed to strengthen its control of the Afghani/Iranian border to prevent the opiate and heroin trade.
Reports indicate that the U.S. Envoy to South Asia, Richard Holbrooke, shared a short conversation with the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mehdi Akhundzadeh. If this is true, this would signal a monumental shift in U.S. foreign policy with Iran. In previous years, Iranian and American officials never spoke with one another. A mending of relations between the United States and Iran after a thirty year rift is crucial to the progress and security of the Middle East. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said the meeting between Akhundzadeh and Holbrooke was “cordial” but “unsubstantive.”
However, today the Iranian government denied any such meeting happened. While Iran is committed to working alongside the United States to bring peace to Iraq and Afghanistan, Iranian officials refuse to meet directly with American officials.
We encourage the Obama Administration to continue working with Iran and opening up relations between the two countries. As one of its legislative objectives for the 111th Congress and the Obama Administration, the UUA calls on the government to “…prevent armed conflict with Iran, through multilateral diplomatic engagement.”