Iran/Israel: “That’s not nothing”


Published in “Der Standard” (Austria) on October 22 2009

An Iranian official directly addressing an Israeli official – that’s pretty audacious
No, it was not “the first Israeli-Iranian nuclear talks”, as agencies had called it on Thursday in a slightly pertly manner. During a multilateral nuclear conference in Cairo, Israeli and Iranian representatives had been sitting at one table and talked to each other – and that is by no means nothing, even though it is miles away from being a “nuclear talk”.

However, nothing beyond the expected has been said in Cairo. Iran addressed Israel’s nuclear weapons and pointed out their own peaceful intentions; Israel, on the other hand, recalled that Iran would not be the first country in the region to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty while at the same time wanting to get nuclear weapons.

Of course, Israeli and Iranian officials regularly meet – and normally avoid – each other on occasions of international forums. However, there is this institution of mostly utterly secret so-called “Track Two”-events, attended by officials who are not so much in the focus, often even representatives of already retired administrations. The context, which is mostly multilateral, allows the participants to unobtrusively scan each other and lateron report their impressions to their governments – something which is actually intended.

Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became Iran’s president and something like a Stalinist turnaround is taking place in the country, all this has become much more difficult. All the more amazing that in Cairo both sides exchanged views in front of witnesses: An Iranian official addressing an Israeli official: that’s a pretty audacious thing to do.
(Gudrun Harrer/DER STANDARD, Printausgabe, 23.10.2009)


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