The talks between Iran and the USA may have been low key, but given the two countries have scarcely been on speaking terms for almost three decades their significance could prove historic.
On the streets of Tehran there was satisfaction at seeing the old enemy flinch.
“To make up for their failure and to cover up for their shortcomings in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said one man, “Americans have demanded talks with Iran. But I don’t think they will talk honestly with us.”
“The US have become desperate after the Iraq invasion and have understood they need to turn to Iraq’s neighbours to solve their problems. But if they show their good will it could be a positive steps.”
The break between Tehran and Washington goes back to 1979 and the taking hostage of American embassy staff by Iranian students angered at the safe haven the United States had given to the fleeing Shah.
22 years later in the wake of the September 11th attacks, George W. Bush made clear the old wounds had not been forgotten.
“Iran agressively accumulates these weapons and exports terror, while an un-elected few repress the Iranian people hoping for freedom. States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil arming to threaten the peace of the world,” he said during a State of the Nation address.
But with the Iraq war a quagmire, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has been softening the tone towards Iran, for example over the nuclear issue.
“As soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table with our EU colleagues and meet with Iran’s representatives.”
Meanwhile some analysts argue that Iran wants the US to maintaining its presence in Iraq to preserve regional stability. The old enemies may just have found a common interest.