3 NMG members share Beat of Week for U.S.-Iran talks scoop

Three DC Guild members shared last week’s AP Beat of the Week award for doggedly pursuing sources over many months until they could confirm a big scoop _ that high-level U.S. and Iranian diplomats had met secretly in Oman to discuss curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

Foreign affairs writer Brad Klapper, diplomatic writer Matt Lee and White House correspondent Julie Pace shared the prize for breaking news of the talks a week ago.

That came after working as a team for months to get the required confirmation of a tip, received last March, that included particulars on where the meeting was held and on elaborate gifts the officials swapped. But there were some holes in that story, U.S. officials kept denying the meeting occurred, and officials in other countries didn’t know anything or weren’t talking.

 

Eventually, while Lee was covering formal, multipower talks in Geneva on slowing down Iran’s nuclear program, he spotted something that didn’t fit. A U.S. official was going from the hotel where six major powers were talking with Iran to another hotel, to brief someone.

The AP reporters worked on many sources to fill in the picture.

As the Geneva talks were wrapping up, Lee, Pace and Klapper got their sources to confirm existence of the side talks where the real deal was being sealed, showing the U.S.-Iran talks had picked up when the Islamic nation inaugurated a reformist president last spring.