Iran's Ahmadinejad opens regional economic summit in Tehran

Iran's Ahmadinejad opens regional economic summit in Tehran Tehran  - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday opened a regional economic summit in Tehran and called on the member states of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) to increase political and economic cooperation.

Iran, Pakistan and Turkey founded the ECO in 1985. Later Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan joined the group.

Ahmadinejad said the central Asian bloc should work harder to become an influential international organisation.

The summit was overshadowed by reports that Turkish President Abdullah Gul had delivered a message from US President Barack Obama to Ahmadinejad.

The reports have not been confirmed but Gul said Tuesday prior to travelling to Tehran that the change of presidency to Obama was very important, and added that "all countries must rethink their policies."

Another major issue is possible Iran-US cooperation in Afghanistan after US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said last week that Iran would be invited to a conference scheduled for this month in a European capital.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari reportedly plan to meet on the sidelines of the ECO summit to discuss security in both countries.

Tehran said it would be ready to help the West in Afghanistan but had not yet received any official invitation to the conference in Europe. (dpa)