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Iraq Meeting Ends Without Rice-Mottaki Meeting

A face-to-face meeting was not in the cards in Sharm el-Sheikh (RFE/RL) May 5, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- An international meeting on ways to stabilize Iraq ended on May 4 without any direct talks between U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki.

Officials said, however, that lower-level Iranian and U.S. diplomats -- the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and Iran's deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi -- held a brief informal talk during the two-day meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari called this contact between Iran and the United States a "positive sign."

Dress Controversy

U.S. officials said the Iranian foreign minister had departed early from a dinner with Rice and other delegates on May 3, apparently because the dress worn by the evening's entertainer, a female Ukrainian violinist, did not meet Islamic standards.

Violinist Larissa Abramova said on May 4 that she was wearing a red, sleeveless dress with long matching gloves and a red scarf, AP reported.

Rice did have a meeting during the conference with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem -- the first such high-level talks between the United States and Syria in more than two years.