Israel and Iran have held their first significant meeting in 30 years but the exchanges between the two adversaries quickly descended into acrimony.
Officials in Tel Aviv admitted on Thursday that representatives from the two states' nuclear agencies spoke to each other during a disarmament conference in Cairo last month.
The surprise encounter, the first that either side has been prepared to admit since the fall of the Shah in 1979, seemed to cause deep embarrassment for both sides.
Fearing public disapproval, Iran denied an exchange had taken place at all, calling it a "lie" designed to strike a psychological blow against the Islamic state's "dynamic diplomacy".
Israel begrudgingly acknowledged the exchange, which took place across the conference floor, but was quick to stress that it took place in an atmosphere bereft of conviviality.
"It wasn't face to face as there were other people there and they didn't shake hands," said Yael Doron, the spokesman for Israel's Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC).
Miss Doron did confirm, however, that this was the first such contact in three decades.>>>
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