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Contacts in US in Egypt not worth mentioning: Iran

Iranian minister Araqchi says that reports about the short encounter between Foreign Minister Mottaki and Condoleezza Rice during a dinner ceremony are exaggerated.

world Updated: May 06, 2007 10:31 IST

Contacts between Iran and the US on the sidelines of the Iraq conference in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt were "not even worth mentioning," said Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi.

Araqchi told state television on Saturday that reports about the short encounter between Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a dinner ceremony were exaggerated by the press, as the two diplomats just exchanged small talk.

The Iranian official said that Iran's withdrawal from a dinner ceremony was not to avoid another Mottaki-Rice meeting but "because the atmosphere was not compatible to the criteria of the Islamic Republic", which had happened several times before, such as when alcoholic beverages are served.

Mottaki and the Iranian delegation members had reportedly avoided the dinner ceremony due to the dress worn by a female Ukrainian violinist playing in the restaurant, which was apparently against Iran's standards.

Araqchi termed his own meeting with the US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, as "neither talks nor negotiation but just a four-minute exchange of viewpoints quite common in diplomatic meetings".

He said that the dilemma in Iraq could not be solved by staged talks just for the sake of appearances, but that talks should have an explicit aim of the restoration of security and stability to Iraq.

Therefore, the deputy minister added, the main basis for such talks should be adopting a realistic approach by the US in general and taking responsibility for Washington having itself caused the dilemma in Iraq.