The Free Press, Mankato, MN


Iran Secret Talks-18

FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2011, file photo, Shane Bauer, left, Josh Fattal, center, and Sarah Shourd, right, Bauer's fiance, wave before leaving for the United States at the airport in Muscat, Oman. Oman, the Gulf state that helped mediate their release after more than two years in custody on accusations of spying. Oman's Sultan Qaboos was a key player in facilitating the release of three American hikers who were detained when they strayed across the Iraq boarder into Iran. Qaboos then offered himself as a mediator for a U.S.-Iran rapprochement, starting the secret informal discussion between Washington and Tehran. The U.S. and Iran secretly engaged in high-level, face-to-face talks, at least three times over the past year, in a high stakes diplomatic gamble by the administration that paved the way for the historic deal aimed at slowing Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Sultan al-Hasani, File)