Iranian, Israeli nuclear envoys 'spoke at Egyptian forum'

Iranian and Israeli nuclear envoys held an conversation last month in Egypt, an Israeli official said.

Iranian, Israeli nuclear envoys 'spoke at Egyptian forum'

Iranian and Israeli nuclear envoys held an unprecedented, if brief, conversation last month at a closed-door Middle East disarmament conference in Egypt, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

Iran, Israel attended a Sept. 29-30 Cairo meeting of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, an unofficial forum established by the Australian and Japanese governments, the group's Web site said.

An Israeli official with knowledge of the talks said that at one point Iran's delegate, Ali Ashghar Soltanieh, asked his Israeli counterpart at the conference, Meirav Zafary-Odiz, about her country's nuclear capabilities.

"She gave her answers, and later the Israeli delegation addressed a question in the same vein to the Iranians, which was answered," the official said, adding that the exchange took place in open session and that the sides did not meet privately.

Israeli and Iranian envoys often participate in U.N. forums such as the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, where Soltanieh is Tehran's ambassador.

But the Israeli official said the Cairo talks were unprecedented in that they featured a "direct dialogue".

Asked about the exchange, a spokeswoman for Israel's Atomic Energy Commission, where Zafary-Odiz has a senior position, said: "Such an event did take place." She gave no further details.

Iranian denial

"The reports in this regard are sheer lies and there has been no meeting in Cairo," the spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Organization told the website of state television.

The daily said there were exchanges between the Israeli representative, Meirav Zafary-Odiz, and Iranian Ali Asghar Soltanieh, but these took place only within three panel sessions.

"The Ha'aretz report is a psychological operation to undermine the successful (nuclear) meetings in Geneva (October 1) and Vienna (October 19-21)," said Ali Shirzadian.

The spokesman added that Iran did not see Israel a state.

Word of the meeting resurfaced in Israeli daily Haaretz on Thursday after Australian newspaper The Age broke it last week.

The U.N's nuclear watchdog on Wednesday presented a draft deal to Iran and three world powers for approval by Friday.



Agencies

Last Mod: 22 Ekim 2009, 16:52
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