| GEO World|
| Iran absence at Afghan meet 'inexplicable': Britain|
| Updated at: 0603 PST, Friday, January 29, 2010|
LONDON: Britain said it was "inexplicable" that Iran had chosen not to attend an international conference on Afghanistan Thursday considering it had raised concerns about its neighbour's instability.
Neither Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki nor his ambassador to London attended the meeting, where nearly 70 countries agreed Afghans should assume more security responsibility and pursue reconciliation with the Taliban.
"We meant it when we said that we thought Iran should attend and play a positive role in this conference," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters.
"They have said before that they want to play a positive role in promoting stability in Afghanistan."
"I think it is very important in international relations that countries say what they mean and mean what they say," Miliband said.
Iran's absence was all the more surprising since Mottaki had raised the concerns about the "damage and danger" that instability in Afghanistan and its large trade in heroin and opium posed for his country, Miliband said.
The failure of Iran to attend the meeting "means that many countries in the region and beyond will draw their own conclusions about the dissonance between the words and deeds."
Iran said Wednesday it would not attend the meeting because it did not believe it would succeed in solving Afghanistan's problems.
The hardline Islamic regime in Tehran has repeatedly called for the withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan, saying their presence increased turmoil in the region.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said earlier Britain had made every effort to involve Iran in the meeting, including inviting representatives to join the core group drafting the communique about the international plan for Afghanistan.
Miliband added: "We think it's deeply regrettable and as well as inexplicable that they failed to attend."
"I hope that in future the Iran government realise they are not the victims of other people's conspiracy, they are their authors of their own misfortune," he said.