Julie Farby – AHN April 2, 2009
Washington, DC (AHN) - Iranian officials dismissed reports that U.S. and Iranian envoys enjoyed a cordial and optimistic exchange during an international conference in the Netherlands, highlighting the countries' vastly different approaches to normalizing relations after almost three decades.
Iran officials have been far less open than their American counterparts in publicly acknowledging discusions between the two nations, with Iran refusing to confirm or deny reports that U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke and Iranian diplomat Mehdi Akhundzadeh met at The Hague conference conference to discuss Afghanistan.
"Maybe this – the report on the meeting by the U.S. – indicates that the other party is hasty to take advantage of the conference," Akhundzadeh was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying.
"Rest assured, that if there is a decision to have talks with U.S., like the talks on Iraq, all will be informed about it. There is nothing to hide," IRNA reported.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the State Department reaffirmed that Holbrooke did meet with the Iranian envoy for a "brief handshake" but did not have a lengthy encounter.
The issue of outreach to Washington is particularly sensitive before the June 12 presidential elections, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is careful not to anger his hard-line base with the suggestion of quick outreach to the Obama administration.
The U.S. and Iran have been estranged for nearly 30 years, since young Iranians stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took more than 50 Americans hostage, but both nations have been working on normalizing relations either through formal talks or informal exchanges.
Last updated 06/04/2009