(AFP) – May 24, 2012
BAGHDAD — Iran's lead nuclear negotiator had a rare "chat" with the head of the US delegation after talks between Tehran and world powers over the Islamic republic's nuclear programme Thursday, officials said.
The "brief encounter" came after Iran rebuffed a US offer of face-to-face discussions between Wendy Sherman and her counterpart Saeed Jalili at the last talks between Iran and world powers in Istanbul last month.
"Jalili paused to chat with Sherman as they were leaving one of the plenaries," a US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A Western diplomat added that there was a "brief encounter as the session wrapped up and people were heading out."
Iran, however, denied that any "meetings" took place with the United States, with an Iranian official telling AFP: "It's absolutely not true. Mr. Jalili did not have any meetings with the Americans."
The last time that the US and Iran held bilateral talks about the nuclear issue was on the sidelines of a similar meeting in Geneva on October 1, 2009, when William Burns, leading Washington's delegation, met Jalili.
At the Baghdad talks, the P5+1 group -- Britain, France, Russia, China and the United States plus Germany -- and Iran agreed to meet again on June 18-19 in Moscow for further talks.
Western powers suspect the Iranian programme is cover for an atomic weapons drive, a charge Tehran vigorously denies. The UN Security Council has passed four rounds of sanctions on the country.
The main concern of the international community, particularly for Iran's arch foe Israel, is Tehran's growing capacity to enrich uranium, which can be used for peaceful purposes but when purified further for a nuclear weapon.
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