Australia brings Israel, Iran together
The Age / Daniel Flitton

Australia has helped accomplish the seemingly impossible - bringing Israel and Iran into the same room for high-level talks on nuclear weapons.

The meeting took place with little public fanfare in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, last month as part of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, an expert panel assembled by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to help rid the world of nuclear arms.

Coming only days after Tehran revealed it had secretly constructed a uranium enrichment plant, participants said there was a ''very robust exchange'' between the Israeli and Iranian officials.

Iran's suspected nuclear weapons ambitions have drawn widespread condemnation, while Israel is the only regional country to possess atomic weapons - a program Tel Aviv has never officially acknowledged.

While careful not to claim any breakthrough at the talks, sources have told The Age both sides engaged in ''serious discussions'' and canvassed the idea of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East.

Contact between Israeli and Iranian officials is sporadic and only takes place at international forums - no formal meetings between the two countries have occurred since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Officials from Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and other regional countries also took part in the three-day meeting and it is believed the talks floated an idea for a further regional conference - possibly hosted by United Natio... >>>

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