The US State Department has confirmed that a top American diplomat will be attending a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization being convened specifically to discuss the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. A State Department spokesman did not rule out that the US diplomat would hold talks with Iranian officials on the sidelines of the meeting.
The SCO gathering is scheduled to take place on March 27 in Moscow. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Patrick Moon would be attending. The United States has no formal affiliation with the SCO, but a US representative was invited to attend the special meeting on Afghanistan.
"The reason why we think it's important to go to this conference is that it's about Afghanistan and how the international community can try to better the situation on the ground, better coordinate our activities, see what types of things we can do together to help make things better for the people of Afghanistan," acting State Department spokesman Robert Wood said at a briefing on March 19. Wood added that no meeting with Iranian diplomats had been "planned." But he pointed out that it would not be "unusual for US and Iranian officials to cross paths during a multilateral meeting, so I'm not going to rule anything in or rule anything out."
Iran holds observer status in the SCO and has been invited to attend a US-proposed summit on Afghanistan at The Hague on March 31.