U.S. Uses Afghanistan Meeting for Iran Overture

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The United States used an
international meeting on Afghanistan to make an unusual direct
diplomatic overture to Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the
Americans delivered a letter to the Iranians at Tuesday's meeting
in The Hague. The letter asks Iran to help resolve the cases of
three detained or missing Americans.

The cases, and the U.S. position on them, were already known.
What's new is the Obama administration's choice to approach Iran
directly, instead of through a go-between. The two countries have
had no formal diplomatic ties for nearly three decades.

Clinton said she sent Iran a direct letter concerning three U.S.
citizens unable to return from Iran: Robert Levinson, Roxana
Saberi, Esha Momeni. Their return would be a humanitarian gesture,
the letter said.

Levinson, a retired FBI agent from Coral Springs, Fla., was last
seen on Iran's Kish Island on March 8, 2007. He disappeared in Iran
while investigating cigarette smuggling for a client of his private
security firm.

The Iranian government has said Saberi was imprisoned for doing
reporting work in the country after her press credentials expired.
Her parents found out about her arrest in a brief phone call from
her Feb. 10. Saberi grew up in Fargo and is a dual citizen of the
U.S. and Iran and has reported for several news organizations.

Momeni, a dual U.S. and Iranian national, was visiting Tehran to
research a master's thesis on the women's rights movement in Iran.
Momeni, born in Los Angeles, was arrested Oct. 15 on a traffic
violation.


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