Rome (Reuters/AFP) The United States recognises that Iran has a role to play in resolving the Afghan conflict, US envoy Richard Holbrooke said on Monday, as Iran attended talks with other nations on the issue for the first time. An Iranian representative joined senior officials in the international contact group on Afghanistan in Rome to discuss progress on the transfer of security responsibility to Afghan forces, the first time Iran has sent an envoy to the talks. We were asked whether we had any problems with that and we said 'No, Holbrooke, the US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, told a news conference. We recognise that Iran, with its long, almost completely open border with Afghanistan and with a huge drug problem ... has a role to play in the peaceful settlement of this situation in Afghanistan. So for the United States there is no problem with their presence. Its another indication that the international effort to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan... is not a clash of civilisations at all, he said. Diplomats also stressed the role of regional powers in Afghanistan and said Iran could play a key role. Italys special representative to Afghanistan, Massimo Iannucci, said: Excluding Iran from Afghanistan is the worst mistake that can be made. Iannucci said there were common interests with Iran including the issues of drug trafficking and illegal immigration across the Iranian-Afghan border. The Iranian envoy, Mohammad Ali Qanezadeh, told AFP the talks had been fruitful, adding however: They say they are withdrawing between 2011 and 2014. Let us wait and see whether they are withdrawing or not. Qanezadeh said the solution to the conflict was in a regional approach. Global powers also gave their backing to Afghanistans efforts to negotiate with the Taliban and set conditions for the gradual handover of power from foreign troops to local security forces. The high-level talks on Afghanistan in Rome brought together representatives from 46 countries and international organisations, including for the first time Iran and the 56-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). We want to go in this direction of a realistic aim which is sufficient stability for Afghanistan and essential human rights, Michael Steiner, Germanys special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan told reporters. Steiner said senior diplomats at the meeting had agreed that the transition of power will begin in 2011 based on strict conditions and that Afghanistan will continue to receive foreign help even after troops have pulled out. Efforts to train Afghan forces need to be stepped up, the handover must be irreversible and there needs to be sufficient stability, he said. Steiner said the conference also backed Afghan-led efforts for negotiations with Taliban insurgents, saying: We cannot resolve this conflict militarily. We need the political process.... We have to support the Afghan government. Holbrooke dismissed criticism of the controversial talks with the Taliban. There is room in Afghanistan for anyone who wants to be reconciled, Holbrooke said, referring to insurgents laying down their arms. Thats not defeat. Weve always said were not going to win this war by military means, he said. The conference in Rome comes ahead of a NATO summit next month that is expected to sketch out the broad outlines of the transition of power in Afghanistan amid record foreign casualties and low public support for the war. But the diplomats emphasised that no precise list of the provinces to be handed over would be provided and that the deadline for the handover by 2014 did not mean that international troops would withdraw by that time. What we expect from Lisbon is a kickstart for next year starting this transition process, Steiner said. This is not the withdrawal of troops. These are two different things. Its the precondition for the withdrawal, he added.