Reuters: Iran played down on Saturday the significance of an international anti-money laundering meeting in Paris that both the Islamic Republic and its old foe the United States attended. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran played down on Saturday the significance of an international anti-money laundering meeting in Paris that both the Islamic Republic and its old foe the United States attended.
U.S. officials said on Friday that a senior U.S. Treasury official met Iranian representatives in Paris on January 24 as part of a gathering to discuss “terror financing”, in a departure from Washington’s usual policy.
Senior Treasury Department official Daniel Glaser was given permission by the Bush administration to attend the meeting, as required by U.S. policy because contacts with Iran are usually forbidden, said a senior U.S. official in Washington.
Iranian Economy Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari told Reuters Iranian officials had been invited to the meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a 34-nation group set up to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.
“They invited Iranian officials to see what is being done in Iran in regards to this issue (money laundering) … There was an exchange of views about this issue,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an Islamic banking conference in Tehran.
Two Iranian officials attended the gathering, one from the central bank and one from his ministry, Danesh-Jafari said.
It had “not been a special meeting … the meeting was not at a senior level,” he added.
“There is supposed to be another seminar in the next one or two months and we will probably take part in that,” Danesh-Jafari said. Iran is not a member of the FATF.
He did not mention the presence of U.S. officials.
The U.S. official in Washington said that “to my knowledge, they did not have one-on-one meetings with the Iranians.”
Last October, the FATF said it was concerned about Iran’s “lack of a comprehensive anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism regime” and urged it to tackle the problem. Iran denies U.S. accusations it is sponsoring terrorism.
Washington severed ties with Iran shortly after its 1979 Islamic Revolution and the two countries are now embroiled in a standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program, which the West fears is aimed at making bombs. Tehran denies the charge.
Easing the decades-long diplomatic freeze, the two sides have held three round of talks in Baghdad since May on improving security in Iraq. But Iraqi officials said this week that Iran had postponed a further meeting scheduled for last Friday.
(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Tim Pearce)