Mahmoud Ahmadinejad- AP- Sept. 21, 2010
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at a summit on the Millennium Development Goals at United Nations headquarters, Sept. 21, 2010 Photo by AP
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Diplomats from the United States and Iran have begun initial contacts to examine the establishment of covert communication between the two countries.

Sources in New York told Haaretz that the two sides secretly convened at the United Nations headquarters in New York, as preparations continue for the UN General Assembly on Thursday. American and Iranian officials discussed a U.S. initiative to establish unofficial diplomatic relations.

Officials from the entourage of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who arrived in New York this week, are involved in the secret talks. Sources add that Iranians are demanding a U.S. "tribute" in return for the release of American backpacker Sarah Shourd last week.

Recent statements by U.S. President Barack Obama have shown restraint in regard to Iranian nuclear plans and a clear preference to resolve the issue diplomatically.