The U.S. used an international meeting on Afghanistan to make what the Associated Press calls an "unusual direct diplomatic overture" to Iran.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Americans delivered a letter to the Iranians at a meeting in The Hague, asking Iran to help resolve the cases of three detained or missing Americans.
Clinton said she sent Iran a direct letter concerning three U.S. citizens unable to return from Iran including Floridian Robert Levinson. Their return would be a humanitarian gesture, the letter said.
Levinson, a retired FBI agent from Coral Springs, Fla., was last seen on Iran's Kish Island on March 8, 2007. He disappeared in Iran while investigating cigarette smuggling for a client of his private security firm.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson has pushed Clinton to raise Levinson's case with Iran.