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Iran and Israel Say No Talks in Cairo

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Israel and Iran emphatically say that an Australian newspaper article reporting they had both talked to each other at a Cairo conference last month was false.

The Australian newspaper, The Age, reported October 16 that Iran and Israel had a "very robust exchange" at the Middle East regional meeting of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, which took place at Cairo's Four Seasons hotel.

While both countries were said to have had representatives at the conference, each denied face-to-face conversation, the BBC reported.

"This lie is a kind of psychological operation designed to affect the constant success of Iran's dynamic diplomacy in the Geneva and Vienna meetings," said Iran's atomic energy spokesperson, Ali Shirzadian on Iranian state TV. Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, Iran's atomic energy agency ambassador, was said to have been Iran's representative at the Cairo conference.

"For years Iran and Israel have participated at the same time in multilateral forums like this," an Israeli official told the BBC, but added it was "preposterous" that being at the panel with Iran implied diplomatic contact between the two countries. Israeli media reported Meirav Zafary-Odiz, of Israel's atomic agency, was Israel's representative at the Egyptian Australian-organized conference.

The Age newspaper is based in Melbourne, and owned by Fairfax Media, Ltd. The story in question said,

"Sources told Fairfax there were 'serious discussions' between Iran and Israel, and while they did not claim a substantial breakthrough from the talks, the prospect of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East was discussed."

Iran and Israel haven't had diplomatic ties since the Iranian revolution of 1979.