A boy in the Afghan city of Kandahar looks with suspicion at a Canadian soldier of the NATO-led coalition, which has failed to bring under control the insurgency, violence and poppy cultivation plaguing the country.
NATO officials revealed Thursday that the alliance had held "informal talks" with an Iranian dignitary at its headquarters in Brussels -- the first such meeting in three decades.
"There were exploratory contacts recently ... It was a first informal contact between an Iranian diplomat and a representative of the secretary general," AFP had quoted a NATO official as saying on condition of anonymity.
A source in the Iranian embassy in Brussels, meanwhile, has confirmed the sit-down.
The issue of security in Afghanistan -- which neighbors Iran -- dominated the talks.
NATO spokesman James Appathurai said Friday that the alliance has plans to further engage Iran on a whole range of issues mostly pertinent to the Afghan crisis.
Also on Friday, the United States included Iran in a 'contact group' that aims to tackle the insurgency in the occupied country. The move is part of President Barack Obama's policy of reconciliation with Tehran.
"We see Iran as an important player related to Afghanistan. We see this as a very productive area for engagement in the future," AFP quoted a US official as explaining on Friday on the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan in Moscow.
A NATO official has told AFP on the issue that Iran, for its part, put high emphasis on tackling problems posed by Afghan opium production and the influx of refugees across its border.