Officials from both Iran and Israel attended a nuclear non-proliferation meeting in Brussels this week. The intent of the meeting was to set the stage for a full international conference on banning nuclear weapons from the Middle East.
The Iranian and Israeli officials are ostensibly attending as private citizens, yet they carry considerable clout and have the permission of their governments to participate. The Iranians were led by Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the country's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Israelis by Jeremy Issacharoff, an ambassador for
strategic affairs at the foreign ministry.
The meeting's mood was described as "respectful and
positive," quite in contrast to the provocative blustering of the two country's leaders: Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, a man so belligerent his generals have to rein him in; and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of the world's most offensive trash talkers.
The date of the international conference is still undecided and one cannot hope for much, but if the two main protagonists in this drama are at least meeting in an atmosphere of respect, one can hope for something, and even that is progress in the Middle East.