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Inside the secret US-Iran diplomacy that sealed nuke deal

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei authorized direct talks with the United States on the nuclear issue as early as 2011, but real progress was not made until Hassan Rouhani, unaware of the talks, came into office in August 2013, US and Iranian officials say.
EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (R) gestures next to his Omani counterpart Yousef bin Alawi during a joint news conference in Tehran February 21, 2012. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi  (IRAN - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2Y704

When Hassan Rouhani was elected Iran’s president in June 2013 on a campaign platform of engaging with the West to reach a nuclear deal and improve Iran’s economy, he apparently didn't know that Iran and the United States had already opened a secret diplomatic channel and held bilateral talks in Oman on the nuclear issue in March 2013.

“The first time I informed Rouhani of the secret negotiations with the United States was after his election to office,” former Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview Aug. 4 with Iran Daily, adding that the incoming president and former Iranian nuclear negotiator was shocked when Salehi briefed him on the consultations ahead of his inauguration: “Rouhani was in disbelief.”

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