Jerusalem downplays nuclear meeting where Israeli, Iranian representatives were in same room

Diplomat says there was no direct contact between Israelis, Iranians and meeting was "completely procedural."

November 5, 2013 22:57
View of the Israeli nuclear facility in the Negev outside Dimona

Dimona nuclear reactor 521. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The participation of Israeli and Iranian officials in a meeting last month in Switzerland for a proposed conference on a nuclear-free Middle East had no more significance than when the two countries sit together in at various other international meetings, a Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.

This was a completely procedural meeting, and there was no contact between the Israeli and Iranian representatives, the official said, downplaying reports of the meeting.

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Finnish Undersecretary of State Jaakko Laajava is charged with organizing the Middle East conference. Iran and Israel joined representatives from a number of Arab states, Russia, Britain and the US at the meeting.

An Egyptian-proposed plan for an international conference to lay the groundwork for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction was agreed to in 2010, co-sponsored by Russia, the US and Britain.

The Israeli official said the meeting was strictly “procedural,” with Israel insisting that all the decisions about the conference have to be taken by consensus.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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