| GEO World|
| Iran, US set to clash over troops at Afghan talks|
| Updated at: 0717 PST, Tuesday, March 31, 2009|
THE HAGUE: Iran rejected the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, apparently putting it sharply at odds with Washington before Tuesday's first major conference on Kabul since President Barack Obama unveiled his strategy.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is hoping to win support at the 90-nation conference for greater military involvement along with increased economic development and army and police training to defeat al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents.
"The presence of foreign troops cannot bring peace and stability for Afghanistan," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzade was quoted as saying in The Hague on Monday by Iran's official news agency.
"It encourages radicalism," he said, adding that a regional solution was needed.
"This policy (the Western countries) decide for the Afghan nation and for the Afghan officials does not work out any more."
Obama came to office offering a new engagement with Iran, ending decades of official U.S. hostility towards the Islamic Republic. Iran has welcomed Obama's overtures but says it wants to see changes in policy rather than words.
More than 70,000 U.S. and NATO troops are in Afghanistan battling a growing insurgency by the Sunni Islamist Taliban movement, which is also spreading its influence in Pakistan through the porous mountain border between the two countries.