Iran, Israel and Arab states in rare secret meeting ahead of Iran's nuclear talks Thursday
Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday that Iran, Israel and Arab states participated in a secret meeting November 2nd regarding prospects for an international conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
The largely unprecedented meeting commenced in the Swiss village of Glion near Montreux, and an additional meeting has already been planned before the end of the year, according to an Arab diplomat who participated in the meeting.
Israeli officials reported that the envoys shared their national positions, but the Jewish state did not have any direct communication with the Iranian or Arab delegates. "That they were there, the Israelis and Iran, is the main thing," said an Arab diplomat.
The Israeli official further described the November 2nd meeting as a preparatory session ahead of a proposed Middle East conference on the issue.
Egypt had previously proposed an international conference to draft a plan to make the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction in 2010. The plan was co-sponsored by Russia, Britain and the United States, but the latter country announced the conference would be delayed in late 2012. No new date has yet been set.
Israel is widely considered and believed to be the only country in the Middle East to possess a nuclear arsenal, often condemned by Arab countries and Iran as threatening regional peace and security.
Iran has also come unde scrutiny, often from US and Israeli representatives, who frown upon the Persian state's nuclear program. Iran has often justified its activities as limited to uranium enrichment for civilian energy, not nuclear weapons fuel.
Reports on the meeting have not been clear as to who chaired the meeting. US representatives were also reported to be in attendance.
Related nuclear-focused meetings are scheduled to commence later this week in Geneva between Iran, the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia. Iran's top negotiator Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told France 24 late Tuesday that a possible framework deal with the other countries in attendance could be released this week, but that "a lot of work has to be done," according to Reuters.